There have been only a few reports on the sympathoadrenal and renin–angiotensin systems in children of small gestational age. The purpose of the present study was to investigate plasma levels of ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) activity, angiotensin and catecholamines in 8- to 13-year-old children and to determine whether there are correlations between the components of these systems with both birthweight and BP (blood pressure) levels. This clinical study included 66 children (35 boys and 31 girls) in two groups: those born at term with an appropriate birthweight [AGA (appropriate-for-gestational age) group, n=31] and those born at term but with a small birthweight for gestational age [SGA (small-for-gestational age) group, n=35]. Concentrations of angiotensin, catecholamines and ACE activity were determined in plasma. Circulating noradrenaline levels were significantly elevated in SGA girls compared with AGA girls (P=0.036). In addition, angiotensin II and ACE activity were higher in SGA boys (P=0.024 and P=0.050 respectively). There was a significant association of the circulating levels of both angiotensin II and ACE activity with BP levels in our study population. Although the underlying mechanisms that link restricted fetal growth with later cardiovascular events are not fully understood, the findings in the present study support the link between low birthweight and overactivity of both sympathoadrenal and renin–angiotensin systems into later childhood.

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