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Predictors of Inflammation in U.S. Children Aged 3-16 Years


Dowd, Jennifer Beam; Zajacova, Anna; & Aiello, Allison E. (2010). Predictors of Inflammation in U.S. Children Aged 3-16 Years. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 39(4), 314-320. PMCID: PMC2952932


BACKGROUND: Little is known about the correlates of low-grade inflammation in U.S. children.
PURPOSE: This study describes the factors associated with increased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in U.S. children and tests whether differences in CRP emerge in childhood because of socioeconomic factors.
METHODS: Data were analyzed in 2009 from 6004 children aged 3-16 years from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2004, a representative sample of the U.S. non-institutionalized population. Tobit regression models are used to evaluate associations between predictors, including BMI-for-age, skinfold body fat measures, chronic infections, environmental tobacco exposure, low birth weight, and sociodemographics and continuous high-sensitivity CRP in milligrams per liter.
RESULTS: CRP levels were higher in U.S. children with lower family income, and these differences were largely accounted for by differences in adiposity and recent illness. Mexican-American children had higher levels of CRP compared to both whites and blacks, but these differences were not explained by measured physical risk factors.
CONCLUSIONS: Increased adiposity is associated with higher CRP concentrations in U.S children aged 3-16 years, and both socioeconomic and racial/ethnic differences exist in systemic inflammation in U.S. children. Increased childhood obesity and low-grade inflammation may contribute to later life chronic disease risk.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Preventive Medicine


Dowd, Jennifer Beam
Zajacova, Anna
Aiello, Allison E.