Moms' Pre-Pregnancy Weight Impacts Risk of Dying Decades Later


Adults whose mothers were overweight or obese before pregnancy have a dramatically elevated risk of dying from heart disease or stroke, according to a new study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014.

CHICAGO, Nov. 18, 2014 — Adults whose mothers were overweight or obese before pregnancy have a dramatically elevated risk of dying from heart disease or stroke, according to a new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2014.

“Excess weight among young women of childbearing age has important implications not only for their own health, but for that of their children as well,” said Michael Mendelson, M.D., S.M., the study’s lead author and a research fellow at the Framingham Heart Study, Boston University and the Boston Children’s Hospital.

Previous studies had shown that people whose mothers were overweight before pregnancy were at higher risk for obesity, diabetes and elevated cholesterol. This study examined whether that translated into higher rates of cardiovascular disease and death.

Researchers analyzed data from 1971 to 2012 on 879 participants (52 percent female, average age 32 when the study began) in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring cohort with information about their mothers’ pre-pregnancy weight status. About 10 percent of the mothers had been overweight, with a body mass index of 25 or higher before pregnancy. That translates to a weight of 145 pounds or more for a 5-foot-4 woman.

During the 41-year span, there were 193 cardiovascular events (coronary heart disease,stroke, heart failure), 28 cardiovascular deaths, and 138 total deaths among the offspring.

Compared with adults whose mothers had not been overweight, the study found that offspring of overweight or obese mothers were at 90 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease or death.Those offspring’s own risk factors, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, appeared to account for some of that difference, Mendelson said. The results of this study support efforts to reduce obesity among young women before childbearing years, he added.

Currently, more than one-half of pregnant women in the Unites States are overweight or obese, according to online statistics from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Study participants were all Caucasian, Mendelson said, adding that more research would be needed to see whether the findings apply to other racial or ethnic groups. Additional larger studies in other populations are needed to verify these findings; however, these results contribute to a growing body of evidence linking maternal health to later life cardiovascular health in their children.

Co-authors are Asya Lyass, Ph.D.; Sarah D. de Ferranti, M.D., M.P.H.; Charlotte Andersson, M.D., Ph.D.; Caroline Fox, M.D., M.P.H.; Chris O'Donnell, M.D., M.P.H.; Matthew Gillman, M.D., S.M.; Ralph B. D'Agostino Sr., Ph.D.; and Dan Levy, M.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The Framingham Heart Study is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health in collaboration with Boston University. Dr. Mendelson is partly funded by Boston University and the Tommy Kaplan Fund, Department of Cardiology, Boston Children’s Hospital.

Additional Resources:

  • Any available downloadable video/audio interviews, B-roll, animation and imagesrelated to this news release are on the right column of the release link
  • Video clips with researchers/authors of the studies will be added to the release linkafter embargo.
  • Obesity Information
  • Body Mass Index Calculator
  • Extra pregnancy pounds linked to kids with heart risks
  • For more news from the AHA’s Scientific Sessions follow us on Twitter @HeartNews #AHA14.


Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available

Note: Actual presentation is 11:30 a.m. CT / 12:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 (S505, Core 2).

Related Videos -
Whole psilocybin mushroom in a clear medication capsule | Image credit: Zim -
Patient suffering from atopic dermatitis -- Image credit: Nikkikii |
Image credit: Fabio Balbi |
Image credit: Melita -
Atopic dermatitis on a patient's hand -- Image credit: Ольга Тернавская |
cropped view of man performing chest compression on dummy during cpr training class - Image credit: LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS |
Medicine law concept. Judges gavel with pills | Image Credit: Iren Moroz -
Image credit: New Africa |
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.