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Childhood Environment Affects Adult Liver Function

Leg length gives key to environmental exposures in early years

TUESDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Environmental exposures during early life affect adult liver function, according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Abigail Fraser, a Ph.D. student at the University of Bristol in Bristol, U.K., and colleagues conducted a study of 4,286 women aged 60 to 79 years randomly selected from 23 U.K. towns. The women completed questionnaires and leg length was measured to assess the impact of childhood environmental factors. Trunk length was also measured.

There was an inverse association between leg length and age-adjusted levels of alanine aminotransferase, gamma-glutamyltransferase and alkaline phosphatase. Trunk length was positively associated with alanine aminotransferase and inversely associated with alkaline phosphatase. The results are consistent with other studies that have found leg length to be inversely associated with diabetes, insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease and risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the authors note.

"Taken together, evidence suggests that there are common childhood influences on liver development and the adult risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease," the authors conclude. "Further studies with detailed measures of early life exposures would be valuable in identifying the specific exposures contributing to the documented associations of leg length with adult levels of liver enzymes and disease."

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