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M.V.E. Veenendaal, S.R. de Rooij, R.C. Painter, S. Robinson, C. Osmond, A. Aihie Sayer, T.J. Roseboom

J Aging Res Clin Practice 2012;1(1):29-32

Background: Grip strength is a marker of current and future health. Small size at birth is associated with reduced grip strength and poor health in later life. Prenatal undernutrition may affect adult grip strength. We investigated the effect of prenatal undernutrition on grip strength in the Dutch famine birth cohort. Methods: We assessed grip strength in 334 men and 364 women at age 58, born as term singletons around the time of the 1944-45 Dutch famine. We compared grip strength among men and women who had been exposed to famine during different periods of gestation to unexposed subjects. Results: Men exposed to famine in early gestation had a 4.2 kg (95%CI 1.0 to 7.3) greater grip strength compared to unexposed men. After adjustment for adult height and timing of participation in the study, the association was no longer significant (2.9 kg (95%CI -0.2 to 6.0)). In women, prenatal exposure to famine was not significantly associated with grip strength. A 1 kilogram increase in birth weight was associated with an increase of 2.8 kg (95%CI 1.0 to 4.7) in grip strength in men and 1.5 kg (95%CI 0.1 to 2.8) in women, adjustment for adult body size explained this relationship. Conclusions: There was no evidence for significant independent associations between prenatal famine exposure and adult grip strength although men exposed in early gestation appeared to have increased grip strength explained by taller adult height. Consistent with previous studies, there was a relationship between small size at birth and lower grip strength.

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