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Associations of mortality with own height using son's height as an instrumental variable

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • David Carslake
  • Abigail Fraser
  • George Davey Smith
  • Margaret May
  • Tom Palmer
  • Jonathan Sterne
  • Karri Silventoinen
  • Per Tynelius
  • Debbie A. Lawlor
  • Finn Rasmussen
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>07/2013
<mark>Journal</mark>Economics and Human Biology
Issue number3
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)351-359
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date21/04/12
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Height is associated with mortality from many diseases, but it remains unclear whether the association is causal or due to confounding by social factors, genetic pleiotropy,(1) or existing ill-health. The authors investigated whether the association of height with mortality is causal by using a son's height as an instrumental variable (IV) for parents' height among the parents of a cohort of 1,036,963 Swedish men born between 1951 and 1980 who had their height measured at military conscription, aged around 18, between 1969 and 2001. In a two-sample IV analysis adjusting for son's age at examination and secular trends in height, as well as parental age, and socioeconomic position, the hazard ratio (HR) for all-cause paternal mortality per standard deviation (SD, 6.49cm) of height was 0.96 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.95, 0.96). The results of IV analyses of mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), respiratory disease, cancer, external causes and suicide were comparable to those obtained using son's height as a simple proxy for own height and to conventional analyses of own height in the present data and elsewhere, suggesting that such conventional analyses are not substantially confounded by existing ill-health.

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