Background: Cord leptin and cord insulin concentrations may be important biomarkers of child adiposity and cardiovascular health, especially in populations with an increased long-term risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. We aimed to determine whether cord leptin and insulin are associated with adiposity and early cardiovascular health at age 4/5, and whether any associations differ between White British and Pakistani children.
Methods: Using bi-ethnic cohort data from 6060 mother-offspring pairs (2717 (44.8%) White British, 3343 (55.2%) Pakistani), we examined associations of cord leptin and insulin with adiposity (BMI, skinfold thickness) and systolic and diastolic blood pressure at age 4/5.
Results: Cord leptin and insulin were higher in Pakistani compared to White British children (7.4 ng/ml versus 6.7 ng/ml and 4.1 mU/L versus 3.63 mU/L, respectively). Associations with adiposity measurements were similar in both groups and close to the null value. For example, each 10 ng/ml higher cord leptin was associated with a difference in mean childhood BMI of 0.10 kg/m2 (95% CI 0.01, 0.19) in White British, 0.01 kg/m2 (95% CI -0.08, 0.10) in Pakistani and 0.04 kg/m2 (95% CI -0.02, 0.11) in both groups combined. Associations with systolic and diastolic blood pressure were also close to the null and consistent in both groups.
Conclusions: We found no evidence that cord leptin or insulin were likely to be valuable biomarkers for predicting later adiposity and blood pressure in White British or Pakistani children. For now, other factors such as family history and social-economic status may be more useful markers of risk.