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New Risk Factor for Heart Disease Identified in Very Young Children, According to Study at American Heart Association Scientific Sessions
Date:11/5/2007

pediatricians must start measuring children's body mass index, as early as age 3."

That age is important, he noted, because BMI rebound occurs between the ages of 4 and 7. At this time, body mass index reaches its lowest point and then begins to rise. The earlier that rebound occurs in a child, the greater the likelihood that by age 7, the child will have higher blood pressure and insulin levels, increased left ventricular mass and left atrial size, and other cardiovascular risk factors, according to Jennifer Jaworski, lead author of the study and a third-year medical student at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

Dr. Kimball's previous studies all confirm the dangers of childhood obesity in terms of heart disease risk. In 2001, two related studies showed for the first time that obesity in children directly affects structure and function of the heart, which could lead to increased risk for heart disease. A 2003 study suggested that certain abnormalities of the heart are more common in obese children than in children of normal weight.

A 2004 study showed that morbid obesity in children and adolescents directly affects the structure of their hearts and puts them at increased risk for future heart attack. Data from a study presented at the AHA Scientific Sessions in 2006 indicated that bariatric surgery for very overweight children at least partially reversed elevated left ventricular mass, a known risk factor for heart attack. And, a study presented at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting earlier this year comparing contemporary children with apparently normal health to their counterparts from a generation ago, found clear evidence that children today are at higher risk of heart disease due to increased left ventricular mass.

"There is a very clear picture here -- and a clear roadmap for pediatricians to follow," said Dr. Kimball. "We have to use BMI as a marker to identify children at risk -- and then when we identif
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SOURCE Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
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