Children whose mothers are overweight or obese during pregnancy and birth are more likely to develop fatal heart disease, a recent study found.
Obese mothers increase heart risk in their child
Research from Scotland suggests that those who were born to obese mothers had a 35% increased risk of dying from heart disease before the age of 55.
The link between obesity in mothers and the increase risk in heart diseases in their children is unknown. It could be a genetic link, influences between the child and the womb or lifestyle habits of the mother.
The research was published in the British Medical Journal and has been described by its authors as ‘a major public health concern’.
Analysis of more than 28,000 women whose weight was recorded at their first antenatal check-up also included data on their 37,000 children between34 and 61 years of age.
Around 20% of all mothers were found to be overweight with a body mass index (BMI) falling between 25 and 29.9. Some 4% of all mothers had a BMI of more than 30 which is defined as obese.
During the research there were 6,551 premature deaths with heart disease being the most common cause. The risk of heart disease was 35% more in those with obese mothers than those with a mother whose BMI was healthy.
Other factors were taken into account such as the mother’s age in relation to their child, social class and the weight of the infant at birth. Another conclusion drawn from the data was that children of obese mothers were at a 42% increased risk of stroke, heart attack and angina.
Leading author of the study Professor Rebecca Reynolds believes the results show that maintaining a health body and lifestyle is important during pregnancy as is the current advice given to expectant mothers.
Doireann Maddock at the British Heart Foundation, which helped fund the study, said: "This study emphasises the need for everyone, but in particular pregnant women, to try to eat healthily and be active."
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