Population Study Article | Published:

Estimating secular changes in longitudinal growth patterns underlying adult height with the QEPS model: the Grow Up Gothenburg cohorts

Pediatric Researchvolume 84pages4149 (2018) | Download Citation




Over the past 150 years, humans have become taller, and puberty has begun earlier. It is unclear if these changes are continuing in Sweden, and how longitudinal growth patterns are involved. We aimed to evaluate the underlying changes in growth patterns from birth to adulthood by QEPS estimates in two Swedish cohorts born in 1974 and 1990.


Growth characteristics of the longitudinal 1974 and 1990-birth cohorts (n = 4181) were compared using the QEPS model together with adult heights.


There was more rapid fetal/infancy growth in girls/boys born in 1990 compared to 1974, as shown by a faster Etimescale and they were heavier at birth. The laterborn were taller also in childhood as shown by a higher Q-function. Girls born in 1990 had earlier and more pronounced growth during puberty than girls born in 1974. Individuals in the 1990 cohort attained greater adult heights than those in the 1974 cohort; 6 mm taller for females and 10 mm for males.


A positive change in adult height was attributed to more growth during childhood in both sexes and during puberty for girls. The QEPS model proved to be effective detecting small changes of growth patterns, between two longitudinal growth cohorts born only 16 years apart.

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We thank all the staff and students of the participating schools and the study team for the collection, and computerizing of the original data. Thanks for valuable editing and language revision to Harriet Crofts. The authors acknowledge financial support from the Swedish Research Council (7509 and VR 2006-7777); the Swedish Council Formas (259-2012-32); the Swedish Research Council for Working Life and Social Research (2006-1624); Pfizer AB; the Governmental Grants for University Hospital Research (ALF) from Region Västra Götaland; PhD grants from the Southern Swedish healthcare region; the R&D department, County of Halland; and the Foundation Växthuset for children.

Author information


  1. Göteborg Pediatric Growth Research Center (GP-GRC), Department of Pediatrics, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

    • Anton Holmgren
    • , Aimon Niklasson
    •  & Lars Gelander
  2. Department of Pediatrics, Halmstad Hospital, Halmstad, Sweden

    • Anton Holmgren
    •  & A. Stefan Aronson
  3. Muvara bv, Multivariate Analysis of Research Data, Leiderdorp, The Netherlands

    • Andreas F. M. Nierop
  4. Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

    • Agneta Sjöberg
  5. Section for Epidemiology and Social Medicine (EPSO), Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

    • Lauren Lissner
  6. Department of Physiology/Endocrinology, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

    • Kerstin Albertsson-Wikland


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Competing interests

A.F.M.N. works for Muvara, Multivariate Analysis of Research Data, Statistical Consultation, the Netherlands. the remaining authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Anton Holmgren.

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