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Serious Childhood Infection Tied to Metabolic Disease Later in Life

Early childhood hospitalization for infection tied to increased BMI, metabolic syndrome in adulthood

MONDAY, Aug. 17, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Infection-related hospitalization (IRH) during childhood is independently associated with adverse adult metabolic variables, according to a study published online Aug. 17 in Pediatrics.

David P. Burgner, M.D., Ph.D., from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Parkville, Australia, and colleagues investigated whether hospitalization with childhood infection is associated with adult anthropometric and metabolic outcomes. The 1,376 participants (aged 3 to 9 years at baseline in 1980) had repeated assessments through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood (age 30 to 45 years in 2001 to 2011).

The researchers found that early-childhood IRH correlated with adverse adult, but not childhood, metabolic variables: increased body mass index (BMI; P = 0.02) and metabolic syndrome (risk ratio, 1.56; P = 0.03), when adjusting for age, gender, birth weight, childhood BMI and other risk factors, and family income. The age at which differences in adult BMI became persistent was related to age of IRH in childhood. Cases with more than one childhood IRH had the greatest increase in adult BMI.

“This finding suggests that infections and/or their treatment in childhood may contribute to causal pathways leading to adult cardiometabolic diseases,” the authors write.

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