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Developmental factors associated with decline in grip strength from midlife to old age: A British birth cohort study

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rachel CooperORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2019 Author(s). Objectives To test whether developmental factors are associated with grip strength trajectories between 53 and 69 years, and operate independently or on the same pathway/s as adult factors. Design British birth cohort study. Setting England, Scotland and Wales. Participants 3058 men and women. Main outcome measures Grip strength (kg) at ages 53, 60-64 and 69 were analysed using multilevel models to estimate associations with developmental factors (birth weight, growth parameters, motor and cognitive development) and father's social class, and investigate adult factors that could explain observed associations, testing for age and sex interactions. Results In men, heavier birth weight, beginning to walk â € on time', later puberty and greater weight 0-26 years and in women, heavier birth weight and earlier age at first standing were independently associated with stronger grip but not with its decline. The slower decline in grip strength (by 0.07 kg/year, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.11 per 1 SD, p=0.003) in men of higher cognitive ability was attenuated by adjusting for adult verbal memory. Conclusions Patterns of growth and motor development have persisting associations with grip strength between midlife and old age. The strengthening associations with cognition suggest that, at older ages, grip strength increasingly reflects neural ageing processes. Interventions across life that promote muscle development or maintain muscle strength should increase the chance of an independent old age.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kuh D, Hardy R, Blodgett JM, Cooper R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMJ Open

Year: 2019

Volume: 9

Issue: 5

Online publication date: 09/05/2019

Acceptance date: 12/03/2019

Date deposited: 17/01/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2044-6055

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-025755

PubMed id: 31072852


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