Babies Born To Overweight Mothers Have Thicker Arteries, Study
Health & Medicine
March 4, 2013
The walls of the body’s major artery – the aorta – are already thickened in babies born to mothers who are overweight or obese, according to a new study.
AsianScientist (Mar. 4, 2013) – The walls of the body’s major artery – the aorta – are already thickened in babies born to mothers who are overweight or obese, according to a new University of Sydney study.
More importantly, the Archives of Disease of Childhood study found that this arterial thickening is independent of the child’s weight at birth – a known risk factor for later heart disease and stroke.
Twenty-three women, whose average age was 35, were included in the study when they were 16 weeks pregnant. A body mass index (BMI) of more than 25 kg/m2 was defined as overweight or obese, and BMI ranged from 17 to 42 among the women.
The abdominal aorta, the section of the artery extending down to the belly, was scanned in each newborn within seven days of birth to find out the thickness of the internal walls – the intima and media.
Intima-media thickness ranged from 0.65 to 0.97 mm, and was associated with the mother’s weight. The difference in intima-media thickness between babies of overweight and normal weight mums was 0.06 mm.
According to study co-author, Dr. Michael Skilton from the University’s Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders, thickening of the abdominal aorta is an indication of early atherosclerosis, the disease that leads to the majority of heart attacks and strokes.
“We already know that the children of overweight or obese mothers are more likely to become overweight and obese themselves, which will potentially increase their risk of heart attack and stroke in adulthood,” he said. “By studying newborn babies, we can potentially avoid the impact of whether or not the child becomes obese in later life.
Skilton said that this is the first study demonstrating that being an overweight or obese mother can itself potentially lead to poor health of the blood vessels, which is consistent with higher risk of heart disease and stroke in later life.
“Our findings suggest that overweight/obesity may have an ‘intergenerational’ effect. That is, that the children of overweight or obese mums may themselves be at higher risk in adulthood of having heart attacks and strokes, irrespective of whether or not they themselves are obese,” he said.
The researchers are currently looking to replicate their findings with a much larger group of women and babies.
The article can be found at: Begg LM et al. (2013) Maternal adiposity and newborn vascular health.
Source: University of Sydney; Photo: sabianmaggy/Flickr/CC.
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