Mother's added pounds in pregnancy may raise child's risk for heart disease
THE QUESTION Might the weight a woman gains while pregnant affect her offspring's chances of becoming overweight or developing heart disease?
THIS STUDY analyzed data on 6,668 mother-and-child pairs, including information on the women's weight before and during pregnancy and medical information on the children through age 9. Children whose mothers gained more weight than recommended while pregnant were 73 percent more likely to be overweight or obese when they were 9 years old than were children whose mothers did not gain extra weight. They also had more cardiovascular risk factors -- including high blood pressure, a larger waist, more body fat, lower levels of "good" cholesterol and higher levels of inflammation markers in the blood such as C-reactive protein -- than the children whose mothers did not add too many pounds during pregnancy. The offspring of women who gained about a pound a week after the first trimester were especially likely to be overweight and face potential cardiovascular problems.
WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Pregnant women and their children. The Institute of Medicine guidelines for pregnancy weight, which were used in the study, call for women with a body mass index of less than 18.5 (considered underweight) to gain 28 to 40 pounds during pregnancy, those with a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 (normal weight) to gain 25 to 35 pounds, those with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 (overweight) to gain 15 to 25 pounds and those with a BMI of 30 or more (obese) to gain 11 to 20 pounds.
CAVEATS The study included only full-term and single pregnancies, nearly all participants were white and just 7 percent were obese before becoming pregnant. Other factors could have affected the children's weight, including a genetic inclination toward weight gain or lifestyle factors passed from mother to child that can lead to added pounds.
FIND THIS STUDY June 1 issue of Circulation.
-- Linda Searing
The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.