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The Developmental Origins of Disease hypothesis has spurred increased interest in how prenatal exposures affect lifelong health, while mechanisms such as epigenetics may explain the multigenerational influences on health. Such factors are not well captured within conventional epidemiologic study designs. We explored the feasibility of collecting information on the offspring and grand-offspring of participants in a long-running study.
The Bogalusa Heart Study is a study, begun in 1973, of life-course cardiovascular health in a semirural population (65% white and 35% black).
Female participants who had previously provided information on their pregnancies were contacted to obtain contact information for their daughters aged 12 and older. Daughters were then contacted to obtain reproductive histories, and invited for a clinic or lab visit to measure cardiovascular risk factors.
Two hundred seventy-four daughters of 208 mothers were recruited; 81% (223) had a full clinic visit and 19% (51) a phone interview only. Forty-five percent of the daughters were black, and 55% white. Mean and median age at interview was 27, with 15% under the age of 18. The strongest predictors of participation were black race, recent maternal participation in the parent study, and living in or near Bogalusa. Simple correlations for cardiovascular risk factors across generations were between r = 0.19 (systolic blood pressure) and r = 0.39 (BMI, LDL).
It is feasible to contact the children of study participants even when participants are adults, and initial information on the grandchildren can also be determined in this manner.
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