Being overweight or obese during pregnancy may increase the baby’s chance of developing heart disease later in life, according to a study published online in the Fetal and Neonatal Edition of Archives of Disease of Childhood.
For the new study, researchers at the University of Sydney involved 23 pregnant women, with an average age of 35, who had a BMI ranged from 17 to 42 when they were 16 weeks pregnant. They scanned abdominal aorta of newborn baby within 7 days to find out the thickness of the internal walls – intima-media thickness.
The intima-media thickness ranged from 0.65 to 0.97 mm and was associated with the mother’s weight. The higher the mother’s weight, the greater the baby’s intima-media thickness, regardless of how much the baby weighed at birth.
The results showed that babies born to mothers who had a BMI of more than 25 had a thickened lining in their major artery – which is a common risk factors for heart disease.
“The earliest physical signs of early heart disease are present in the abdominal aorta, and aortic intima-media thickness is considered the best non-invasive measure of structural health of the vasculature in children”, study co-author, Dr Michael Skilton said, as reported in Dailymail.
Amy Thompson, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation (BHF) said that these results could suggest a direct link between a mother’s weight during pregnancy and her child’s risk of heart disease.
“However, this was a very small study of only 23 pregnant women and we would need further research on a larger scale to make a definite decision. Also, since the babies were only examined at one week old, we do not know what these findings may mean for their heart health as their life continues.”
“We do know that obesity during pregnancy can cause a number of problems for both the mother and their newborn baby.”
“If you are thinking of starting a family and have concerns about your weight, try to eat healthy and stay active.”
“Looking after yourself when you’re pregnant will mean that you are in the best position to look after your baby when the time comes.”