Register / Log In

Prepregnancy BMI increases child’s heart risk


  • Women who are overweight before pregnancy predispose their children to developing cardio-metabolic syndrome as young adults.

  • As obesity rates rise, future generations face increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes.

Women who are overweight before pregnancy significantly increase their children’s risk of developing hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes as young adults, report researchers from Israel and the United States.

The results indicate that greater maternal prepregnancy body mass index (BMI)—independent of weight gained during pregnancy—is significantly associated with higher offspring BMI, waist circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and insulin and triglyceride levels and with lower levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol at age 32.

Further, gestational weight gain—independent of maternal prepregnancy BMI—was positively associated with offspring adiposity at the same age, suggesting that offspring adiposity was the main driver of the associations.

Using a birth cohort of 1,400 Jerusalem residents born between 1974 and 1976 and participating in the Jerusalem Perinatal Family Follow-Up Study, researchers analyzed the long-term effects of maternal prepregnancy BMI and gestational weight gain on other related cardio-metabolic factors (ie, glucose, insulin, lipids, and lipoproteins) measured in early adult offspring.

In their study, published in Circulation (2012;125[11]:1381-1389), the authors write that the most likely mechanisms for the associations are not only shared genetic and environmental factors but intrauterine factors and that “epigenetic processes linking environmental and genetic factors” are involved in transmitting information from the uterus to offspring later in life.

The authors note that at the time the cohort was established, obesity rates were not nearly what they are today; they caution that current obesity trends do not bode well for the next generation.

Read other articles in this issue of Special Delivery.

Scientific evidence does not support annual Pap tests in most women, according to new cervical cancer screening guidelines issued by the United States Preventive Services Task Force.

A Danish study suggests that the intensity of a woman?s workout may influence how quickly she becomes pregnant.