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Newborns of Overweight Moms at Risk for Heart Disease

A new study shows that babies born to mothers who are obese or overweight already have thickened aorta, the main artery that comes from the heart.  Moreover, this thickening of the artery is independent of birth weight.  This arterial thickening is a known risk factor for heart disease and stroke later in life.  The study was published online in the Fetal and Neonatal Edition of Archives of Disease of Childhood.

Researchers studied twenty-three women who are 16 weeks pregnant.  The average age of women was 35 with BMI (body mass index) ranging from 17 to 42 kg/m2.  A BMI of more than 25 kg/m2 was considered obese or overweight. The weight of the babies at birth ranged from 1.85 to 4.31 kg. Ten of the newborns were male.

To find out the thickness of the two innermost walls (the intima and media) of the artery, the abdominal aorta (section of the artery extending down to the stomach) was scanned in each newborn within seven days of birth. The thickness of the walls was associated with the weight of the mother.  The higher the weight of the mother, the thicker was the baby’s arterial layer.

According to the authors of the study, early signs of the hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) are present in the abdominal aorta.  As such, they consider the aortic wall thickness as the best non-invasive measure of the structural health of the vasculature in children. The authors therefore concluded that obese or overweight mothers might increase the risk of their offspring’s likelihood of developing heart disease later in life.


BMJ-British Medical Journal. First signs of heart disease seen in newborns of overweight/obese mums. ScienceDaily.


Posted in: Babies' Health, Disease Prevention, Heart Disease, News Briefs, Obesity, Pregnancy, Women's Health

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