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  • Original Article
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Cord blood telomere length in Latino infants: relation with maternal education and infant sex

Abstract

Objective:

Telomere length (TL) has important consequences for early disease and lifelong health. However, few studies have examined determinants of TL at birth.

Study Design:

Here we test associations between cord blood TL and parental and birth factors associated with exposure to stress and indicative of healthy intrauterine life in Latino infants. We tested associations that were significant in bivariate analysis in a multivariate regression model to identify independent predictors for shorter TL at birth.

Result:

Two novel and independent predictors emerged in our analysis of 54 infants. Female gender was associated with longer TL by ~350 base pairs (adjusted β-coefficient for male gender=−369.57, (95% confidence interval, −718.21 to (−)20.92), P=0.02); rho=−0.26, P=0.057). Increased maternal high-school education, as indicated by a high-school diploma or additional education beyond high school, was also associated with longer TL, by ~500 base pairs (adjusted β-coefficient for high-school diploma or greater=505.68 (95% confidence interval, 151.69 to 859.68), P<0.01); rho=0.36, P<0.01). Increasing head circumference trended towards statistical significance in association with longer TL (adjusted β-coefficient = 7.33; 95% confidence interval −0.52 to 15.18; P=0.07). When we removed all infants who had been exposed to high oxidative stress in pregnancy including those exposed to maternal hypertension, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and those who were low birth weight or preterm birth (n=7), increasing birth weight percentile was associated with longer TL (adjusted β-coefficient=8.04 (95% confidence interval 0.07 to 16.00), P=0.048).

Conclusion:

Shorter TL at birth is associated with being male, low maternal education (less than a high school degree), and a trend towards lower birth weight and head circumference. Given the critical role of long TL in predicting health and disease, these findings contribute to the growing literature attempting to understand determinants of TL.

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Acknowledgements

Funding received from NIH NIDDK 080825 and 097458. This publication was made possible by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health, through Grant Number R25MD006832.

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Correspondence to J M Wojcicki.

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Competing interests

JL is a consultant to Telomere Diagnostics Inc., formerly Telomere Health, and owns stock in the company, and the company did not play any role in this research. The remaining authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Supplementary Information accompanies the paper on the Journal of Perinatology website

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Wojcicki, J., Olveda, R., Heyman, M. et al. Cord blood telomere length in Latino infants: relation with maternal education and infant sex. J Perinatol 36, 235–241 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/jp.2015.178

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