Cole, Tim J. (2004). Modeling Postnatal Exposures and Their Interactions with Birth Size. Journal of Nutrition, 134(1)
The fetal origins of adult disease hypothesis postulates that the inverse association between birth weight and later adverse outcome reflects fetal programming that increases the risk of later disease. However, low birth weight is associated with catch-up after birth, and weight gain is itself a risk factor for later disease. It is difficult to disentangle the effects on outcome of the size and growth components of weight change through time. This paper presents the life course plot, a device to display both size and growth effects simultaneously. It is based on the multiple-regression analysis of the outcome on the various weights, expressed as z-scores, and the plot displays the coefficients plotted against the corresponding ages of measurement. Examples from Brazil (Pelotas) and the Phillippines (Cebu) relate blood pressure in adolescence to weight through childhood. They show small inverse weight effects in infancy, but early weight is less important than weight and weight gain during adolescence. In addition, birth length in the Cebu study affects the strength of the relationship between weight and blood pressure in adolescence. This suggests a fetal programming effect, with children who were relatively long at birth having a more sensitive relationship between blood pressure and weight at age 15. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is not immediately clear.
Journal of Nutrition
Cole, Tim J.