Birth Weight, Adult Obesity and Hypertension Risk

Pavankumar Kamat


July 21, 2021


  • A study found a non-linear inverse association between low birth weight (<2.88 kg) and the risk of hypertension.

  • Furthermore, low birth weight and adult obesity (body mass index [BMI], ≥30 kg/m2) had a multiplicative interaction with respect to the risk of hypertension.

Why this matters

  • Findings suggest that birth weight between 3.43 and 3.80 kg could be a potential threshold for reducing the risk of hypertension.

Study design

  • The study involved 199,893 participants from the UK Biobank with data on birth weight and without a history of hypertension.

  • The dose-response association of birth weight with hypertension was assessed.

  • The association between birth weight and adult obesity index was also evaluated.

  • Funding: National Natural Science Foundation of China and others.

Key results

  • The risk of hypertension decreased with an increase in birth weight up to approximately 3.80 kg (Pnon-linearity=.0004).

  • Compared with participants having birth weight of the fourth quintile (3.43-3.80 kg), those having birth weight of the first quintile (<2.88 kg) had an increased risk of hypertension (adjusted HR [aHR], 1.25; 95% CI, 1.18-1.32).

  • Compared with participants having birth weight between 3.43 and 3.80 kg and BMI between 18.5 and 25.0 kg/m2, those having low birth weight and adult obesity had a substantially higher risk of hypertension (aHR, 3.54; 95% CI, 3.16-3.97; Pinteraction<.0001).

  • These associations were consistent in the stratified and sensitivity analyses.


  • Data on early life exposures were self-reported which could lead to recall bias.

  • Risk of residual confounding.


Zhang Y, Liang J, Liu Q, Fan X, Xu C, Gu A, Zhao W, Hang D. Birth Weight and Adult Obesity Index in Relation to the Risk of Hypertension: A Prospective Cohort Study in the UK Biobank. Front Cardiovasc Med. 2021;8:637437. doi: 10.3389/fcvm.2021.637437. PMID: 34222359.  View full text

This clinical summary originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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