Childhood height linked to stroke risk later in life

A Danish study has made a link between shorter children and the increased risk of stokes in adulthood.

The research, which looked at the height measurements of 311,009 school children aged between seven and thirteen and born between 1930 and 1989, found that children who were a little shorter than their classmates had an increased risk of suffering a stroke in adulthood.

The study revealed that girls who were short at the age of seven had their chances of undergoing an ischemic stroke increased by 11 per cent. For men who were short at the same age, there was a ten per cent increase in the likelihood of having an ischemic stroke and an 11 per cent increase in suffering a haemorrhagic stroke.

Half of those taking part in the study were monitored for a minimum of 31 years and follow-up ranged from 25 to 83 years. During this time, 10,412 people underwent an ischemic stroke and 2,546 a haemorrhagic one.

The report’s author, Jennifer Lyn Baker, said: “Our study shows that a short height in childhood signals an increased risk of stroke decades later.

“People with shorter heights should work at changing modifiable risk factors that they can control, including high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol and obesity, so that their risks of stroke can be reduced.”

Dr Steve Roach, a professor of neurology and paediatrics at Ohio State University, stressed that parents shouldn’t panic with regards to their child’s future, but should ensure that they tackle other risks that can contribute towards a stroke.

He said: “Promoting good diet and exercise during childhood are unlikely to alter that person’s eventual height very much, but for other reasons, teaching the children good habits that they carry into adulthood is still a good strategy for minimizing the risk of subsequent stroke and heart attack.”

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