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Lifecourse predictors of adult fibrinogen levels: the Newcastle Thousand Families Study
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Professor Mark Pearce
Professor Louise Parker
Professor Nigel Unwin
Pearce MS, Ahmed A, Tennant PWG, Parker L, Unwin NC
International Journal of Cardiology
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Background. Research investigating early life effects on fibrinogen levels in adult life has produced conflicting results. The aim of this study was to examine and quantify the direct and indirect associations between fetal, infancy and adult risk factors and fibrinogen levels at age 49-51 years, and in a lifecourse model using data from the Newcastle Thousand Families Study. Methods. Detailed information was collected prospectively during childhood, including birth weight, duration of being breast fed and socio-economic conditions. At age 49-51 years, 574 study members returned detailed self-completion questionnaires and 412 attended for clinical examination, including the measurement of plasma fibrinogen concentrations in 173 men and 221 women. These data were analysed, using linear regression and path analyses. Results. Poorer quality housing conditions at birth (p=0.001), longer duration of being breast fed (p=0.025), lower current body fat percentage (p<0.001), not being a current smoker (p<0.001) and moderate adult alcohol consumption (p=0.002) were all significant independent predictors of lower plasma fibrinogen concentration at age 49-51 years. No association was observed between plasma fibrinogen concentration and standardised birth weight or with time since stopping smoking among former smokers. Conclusion. Concentration of plasma fibrinogen in adulthood is influenced by a range of factors from different stages of life. Although birth weight was not a predictor, there were significant associations with housing conditions in early life and duration of being breast fed. Regardless, the strongest predictors were smoking and contemporary percent body fat. Therefore, modification of these factors would be the most likely way to reduce concentrations of plasma fibrinogen in adulthood.
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