Early-life exposure to the Chinese famine and risk of carotid intima-media thickness increased in adulthood

Lin Liu, Yu qing Huang, Kenneth Lo, Chao lei Chen, Jie Li, Ying qing Feng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background and aims: Little was known about the effect of famine exposure on carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT). The present study aimed to explore the relationship in a Chinese population. Methods and results: Participants were divided into five groups: not exposed to famine, exposed to famine in fetal, early, mid or late childhood. Elevated cIMT was defined as a thickness of >0.9 mm measured by carotid ultrasound. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to calculate odds ratio (OR) and confidence interval (CI) between famine exposure and cIMT. A total of 2637 (970 male, mean age 59.1 ± 3.65 years) participants were recruited, and 491 (18.62%) of them had elevated cIMT. When compared with the non-exposure group, the fully adjusted ORs for increased cIMT for exposure in fetal, early, mid to late childhood were 1.321 (95%CI: 0.872, 1.994, P = 0.186), 1.713 (95% CI: 1.188, 2.483, P = 0.004), 2.359 (95% CI: 1.674, 3.357, P < 0.001) and 2.485 (95% CI: 1.773, 3.518, P < 0.001), respectively. Subgroup analyses showed that the exposure to famine did not interact with body mass index, gender, smoking status, hypertension and diabetes history on its effect on cIMT. Conclusion: Our findings indicated that early-life exposure to the Chinese famine might be associated with an increased risk of increased cIMT in adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)841-848
Number of pages8
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Adulthood
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Carotid intima-media thickness
  • Chinese famine
  • Early life
  • Exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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