Background Prematurity is associated with a higher incidence of hypertension and glucose metabolism during childhood and young adulthood. This may be due to circumstances during fetal and early postnatal life or to confounders such as unhealthy lifestyle in childhood home. The confounder explanation would gain support if preterm birth would predict father’s cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Objective We hypothesised that preterm birth would predict cardiovascular disease in both parents.
Design/methods Pregnancy data came from Finnish Medical Birth Register. During Jan 1, 1987 and Sep 30, 1990, we included the first singleton birth for each of the 196,427 mothers. National Population Register Centre tracked the fathers, 3,048 remained missing (and 27 mothers).
We obtained Hospital Discharge Register data from Aug, 1969, and non-primary care out-patient visit data from Sep 1986, both until 31 Dec 2012. The first occasion of CVD was when the ICD-9 and ICD-10 indicated coronary heart disease (CHD) or stroke.
We utilised Cox regression for proportional hazards to analyse the effect of GA group on CVD in mothers and fathers separately.
Results In mothers, preterm birth predicted CVD with Hazard Ratios (HRs) increasing up to 2.12 with shorter gestation ( Table 1 ). Among thefathers, those whose baby had been born preterm were clearly not at ahigher risk for a CVD diagnosis ( Table 2 ).
Conclusions Since preterm birth predicted CVD only in mothers and not fathers, the higher CVD risk factors in those born preterm are unlikely to be mediated by unhealthy habits learnt from the parents.