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European Youth Heart Study EYHS

The EYHS is an ongoing prospective cohort study. The study is an international multi-center study currently including research groups in Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Portugal, Spain, England, Island, The Netherlands and Austria

EYHS addresses the issue of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in children. It investigates a wide range of factors that might influence the progression of CVD risk factors in children by utilizing both new technology and laboratory-based methods adapted for field use.

The primary objective of the EYHS is to study the nature, strength, and interactions between personal, environmental, and lifestyle influences on CVD risk factors in a large population of children of differing age, sex, culture, and ethnicity. The secondary objective is to assess the age-, sex-, and time-specific prevalence of personal, environmental, lifestyle, and physiological risk factors.

The first cross-sectional survey in Denmark was conducted in 1997-98 with inclusion of n=1019 9-year old children and 15-year old adolescents. A repeated measurement was done in 2003 with inclusion of a new cohort of n=458 9-year olds. In 2009-10 another repeated measurement will be undertaken with individuals originally sampled being 15- 21- and 27-years old. The individuals were randomly selected and assessed according to the same protocols in each center.

A description of the protocol can be found at the bottom of this page. In the third round of the Danish EYHS we extend the assessment to incorporate the following measures:

- High-resolution ultrasound imaging to determine the amount of arteriosclerosis and the degree of arterial stiffness in the carotid artery.

- High-resolution ultrasound imaging to determine endothelial function in the brachial artery.

- Heart rate variability as a quantitative marker of autonomic activity.

Below is a summary of the selected findings where Danish EYHS-I and/or EYHS-II are included:

  • A polarization in fitness and obesity has occurred during a 12-year period from 1985-86 to 1997-98.
  • Cardiovascular risk factors tend to cluster already during childhood
  • Both habitual physical activity and fitness are associated with clustering of cardiovascular risk factors.
  • Recommendations for physical activity during childhood should most likely be increased to 1½ hours of moderate intensity per day as a replacement for the current guidelines of 1 hour.
  • Habitual physical activity tracks moderately from childhood into adolescence.
  • Reductions in objectively measured physical activity between ages 9 and 15 is associated with the indices of insulin resistance.
  • A family environment in which after-school TV viewing is part of the home culture and homes where children have more autonomy over their own behavior are associated with an increased risk of watching >2 h of TV per day after school and spending more >1 h per day playing computer games.
  • Cycling to school may contribute to higher cardiovascular fitness during youth.
  • A slow intrauterine growth trajectory and/or a fast post-natal growth trajectory is associated with greater insulin resistance in childhood
  • Children who have ever been exclusively breast fed have lower systolic blood pressure than those who were not - independent of several confounding factors.
  • Among Danish children, those with the most educated and highest earning parents had least insulin resistance, whereas the opposite was true for children from Estonia and Portugal
  • A genetic variant in LIN28B, a potent and specific regulator of microRNA processing, is the first genetic determinant discovered regulating the timing of human pubertal growth and development
  • Genetic variants in the PPARGC1A gene may influence several metabolic traits during childhood
  • The genetic variant rs7566605 from the INSIG2 locus (discovered to influence adiposity from a genome-wide association study) is not associated with obesity-related traits and lipids in the EYHS

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