Leukocytes as risk markers for cardiovascular disease in adolescents: association with birth characteristics, nutritional status and biochemical tests

Abstract Objective: To evaluate the correlation between the number of leukocytes and cardiovascular risks associated with birth characteristics, nutritional status and biochemical tests. Methods: Cross-sectional study developed with 475 adolescents, born between 1992 and 2001, in the municipality of Viçosa (MG). Maternal medical records were analyzed in the hospital units, and the following was recorded: birth weight and length, head circumference, chest circumference, Apgar score, gestational age. In adolescents, body mass index, skinfold thickness, body composition, blood count, biochemical tests and clinical variables were also assessed. The statistical analyses was carried out using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20.0 and Data Analysis and Statistical Software (STATA) with Kruskal–Wallis, Mann–Whitney, chi-square or Fisher's exact tests and Linear Regression. Significance level was set at α<0.05. The study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of UFV for studies with human subjects. Results: Weight and birth length, head and chest circumference were higher among boys. In adolescents, the number of leukocytes was higher in individuals with excess weight and body fat and high adiposity index, waist-to-height ratio and waist circumference. Only altered triglycerides showed differences between leukocyte medians. Regardless of the anthropometric variable of the final regression model, the stage of adolescence, number of platelets, eosinophils, monocytes and lymphocytes were associated with the increase in leukocytes. Conclusions: The birth variables were not associated with changes in leukocyte numbers, whereas the anthropometric variables were good indicators for a higher leukocyte count, regardless of the stage of adolescence and gender.