Mother’s Pre-Pregnancy Weight May Influence Offspring’s Cardiovascular Risk

According to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2014, adults whose mothers were overweight or obese pre-pregnancy may have a significantly increased risk of dying from heart disease or stroke.

Earlier research has shown that adults whose mothers were overweight pre-pregnancy were at an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol. This recent study examined whether that was linked to higher rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality. 

Michael Mendelson, MD, SM, from the Boston University and the Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues evaluated data from 1971–2012 on 879 patients in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring cohort with data about their mothers’ pre-pregnancy weight status. The data revealed about 10% of mothers had been overweight pre-pregnancy, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher. Over the 41-year study period, 193 cardiovascular events (eg, coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure), 28 cardiovascular deaths, and 138 total deaths occurred among the offspring. 

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Offspring of overweight or obese mothers had a 90% higher risk of cardiovascular disease or death compared with offspring of mother’s who had not been overweight. Dr. Mendelson noted that the offspring’s individual risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, accounted for some of that difference. 

Findings from this study support the efforts to reduce obesity among young women before childbearing years. Dr. Mendelson noted further research is required to examine if these findings apply to other racial or ethnic groups. 

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