Childhood Risk Factors for Young Adult Strokes - The Northern Finland Birth Cohort Study 1966

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Banguet room 303 (Unioninkatu 33, Helsinki)

Topic of the dissertation

Childhood Risk Factors for Young Adult Strokes - The Northern Finland Birth Cohort Study 1966

Doctoral candidate

Licentiate of Medicine Milja Kivelä

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Medicine, Center for Life Course Health Research

Subject of study

Epidemiology, neurology


Docent Jukka Putaala, HUS Helsinki University Hospital, University of Helsinki


Docent Markus Paananen, City of Espoo, Western Uusimaa wellbeing services county

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Early childhood risk factors for strokes in adulthood

Strokes among young adults have been on the rise globally. Up to a third of these strokes remain without explanation. This large number of unexplained stroke cases highlights the need to research underlying causes, as these rises could be related to earlier, even childhood, exposure to risk factors.

This thesis investigated associations between growth and development during childhood and risk of later stroke. The results revealed several early life factors to be associated with increased risk of young adult strokes. Novel findings were the associations between low and above-average maternal weight gain and offspring’s risk of ischemic stroke, which were independent of birth weight. Low weight, height, and thinness at time of birth were markers of increased stroke risk in later life. Among women also below average weight or height growth during the first two years of life and above average BMI before school age associated with adulthood stroke risk. In addition, the results suggest childhood motor and language development to have predictive value for later life strokes.

The study was performed with data from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 (NFBC1966). The NFBC1966 is a population-based birth cohort consisting of 12,068 pregnant women and their 12,058 live-born children. Altogether 521 strokes occurred during follow-up. This dissertation utilized data that has been collected from medical records, national registers, clinical examinations, and questionnaires and a follow-up of up to 54 years.
The results of this thesis support the notion that early development, beginning during prenatal stages, can provide useful indicators for future stroke risk accumulation.
Last updated: 23.1.2024