The influence of outdoor temperature on cardiovascular health measures in birth cohorts in three climatic regions

PhD project (3/4 yr research project leading to independent research at the doctorate level)

Prof Richard Morris, Prof Richard Martin, Dr Andrew Williams (University of Exeter), Dr Christophe Sarran (Met Office)

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In debating effects on human health of global warming over future decades, it is frequently assumed that excess winter mortality, a well-recognised phenomenon across Europe, will decline. At present, England and Wales still experience over 20,000 extra deaths over the four winter months compared with other four month periods of the year. This phenomenon has also been documented in southern European countries and even in sub-tropical regions, suggesting that relative cold is more important than absolute cold, and hence that excess winter mortality may not decline. Relationships between low temperature and various risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) such as blood pressure have been shown in older adults but effects on child health are unknown. A study of such relationships in children holds advantages compared to adult studies, in particular a lack of bias from deaths of CVD, and the non-use of anti-hypertensive therapy.

Aims & objectives

(i) To evaluate relationships between outdoor temperature in three birth cohort studies and cardiovascular health measures
(ii) To evaluate relationships between changes in outdoor temperature and repeated measures of cardiovascular health
(iii) To evaluate whether relationships between outdoor temperature and cardiovascular measures are modified by socioeconomic status of participants’ families.
(iv) To compare relationships seen between the birth cohorts


The project will use longitudinal data from several well-established birth cohorts (PROBIT, ALSPAC, and APCaPS) from the diverse climatic areas of Belarus, Bristol (UK), and Andhra Pradesh (south India). Each study includes measures on thousands of children at different ages through to young adulthood. Repeated measures of blood pressure (the primary outcome) and other clinical measures are available in these cohorts and will be linked to weather variables, especially temperature, at the time measures were taken.
To address the need for accurate exposure assessment of the children, this project offers a Visiting Scientist attachment for the student at the Met Office,
Both cross sectional and longitudinal analysis will take place within each cohort. The degree and nature of relationship between temperature and health measures (in particular blood pressure) will be compared between cohorts from temperate continental, temperate maritime, and tropical wet and dry climates respectively.


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Gasparrini A et al. Lancet. 2015 Jul 25;386(9991):369-75

Created on Nov. 1, 2016, 2:47 p.m.