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Relation between birth weight and soluble markers of endothelial function in middle aged subjects
  1. E A McIntyre1,
  2. L Parker1,
  3. M S Pearce1,
  4. J Gerrard1,
  5. N Sattar2,
  6. A W Craft1,
  7. M Walker1
  1. 1School of Clinical Medical Sciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2Department of Clinical Biochemistry, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor Mark Walker
    The Medical School, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK; mark.walker{at}

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The Barker hypothesis proposes that suboptimal fetal growth in utero results in metabolic programming leading to increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease in adult life.1 However, the magnitude of the impact of fetal programming on adult disease remains a focus of debate, and certainly our study of the Newcastle thousand families cohort of middle aged subjects found that adult lifestyle appears to have a substantially greater influence than low birth weight on the classic cardiovascular disease risk.2

The endothelium has a regulatory role in several mechanisms, including vascular tone and coagulation. Abnormalities of the endothelium have been found to predict cardiovascular disease, sometimes independent of the classic cardiovascular risk factors such as raised von Willebrand factor (vWF) concentrations.3 Several studies have reported an association between low birth weight and different aspects of endothelial function.4,5 The objective of this study was to determine whether soluble markers of endothelial function and inflammation are associated with low birth weight in middle aged subjects.


The Newcastle thousand families study is a prospective cohort study of all 1142 children born in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in May and June 1947. Birth weight measurements were obtained from records made by midwives. In 1996, 832 of the cohort were traced and 412 of them, representative of the original cohort, …

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