Maternal Obesity Raises Health Risks, Even for Their Adult Children

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Rebecca M Reynolds, Professor of Metabolic Medicine
Endocrinology Unit, BHF/University Centre for Cardiovascular Science, University of Edinburgh, Queen’s Medical Research Institute, Edinburgh EH14 6TJ, UK

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: We found that the adult offspring of women who were obese at the start
of pregnancy were 35% more likely to die prematurely than offspring of
normal-weight women. We also found that children born to mothers who
were overweight when they became pregnant had an 11% increased risk of
premature death.  Adult offspring of mothers who were obese were also
at increase risk of hospital admissions for cardiovascular events.

MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Answer: There have been a couple of previous studies showing that children of
obese mothers have increased risk factors for heart disease including
higher glucose, higher blood pressure and dyslipidaemia and we had
therefore hypothesised that they would be at greater risk of
cardiovascular disease in later life.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Answer: While our results have demonstrated a link between maternal overweight
and obesity and adverse health in the offspring we don’t know whether
this relationship is causal. Nevertheless, as obesity levels are
currently rising among women of reproductive age, we should be raising
awareness of the importance of being a healthy weight prior to
pregnancy and we should be helping women planning pregnancy achieve
this.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Answer: We are very interested in understanding the underlying mechanisms
explaining our findings. We also need to know whether weight changes
in pregnancy influence the outcomes and whether modification of
lifestyle and weight in the offspring can moderate the findings.

Citation:

Maternal obesity during pregnancy and premature mortality from cardiovascular event in adult offspring: follow-up of 1 323 275 person years

Reynolds RM, et al “Maternal obesity during pregnancy and premature mortality from cardiovascular event in adult offspring: follow-up of 1 323 275 person years” BMJ 2013; 347: f4539.

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