Associations of hair cortisol concentrations with cardio-metabolic risk factors in childhood.

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Biological stress is related to cardiovascular disease in adults. The associations of stress with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases may originate in childhood.To examine the associations of hair cortisol concentrations at 6 years with cardio-metabolic risk factors at 6 and 10 years.Cortisol concentrations were measured in hair of 6-year-old children (n = 2,598) participating in the Generation R Study, a population-based prospective cohort study in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.Blood pressure, heart rate, concentrations of insulin, glucose, lipids and C-reactive protein in blood at 6 and 10 years.Higher hair cortisol concentrations at 6 years were associated with higher systolic blood pressure at 10 years (difference 0.17 standard deviation score (SDS) (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.03, 0.31)). The association attenuated into non-significance after adjustment for childhood BMI at 6 years. Higher hair cortisol concentrations at 6 years were associated with an increase in total and LDL cholesterol between 6 and 10 years but not with those measurements at 6 or 10 years. Hair cortisol concentrations were not associated with other cardio-metabolic risk factors at 6 or 10 years.Hair cortisol concentrations were not independent of BMI associated with cardio-metabolic risk factors at 6 or 10 years. The associations of biological stress with cardio-metabolic risk factors may develop at later ages.


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Authors: Florianne O L Vehmeijer, Susana Santos, Yolanda B de Rijke, Erica L T van den Akker, Janine F Felix, Elisabeth F C van Rossum, Vincent W V Jaddoe

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