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Children of Overweight Moms at Greater Risk of Early Heart Death

Update Date: Aug 13, 2013 11:41 PM EDT

Children of overweight or obese moms are at greater risk of early heart death as adults.

A new study also found that children of overweight mother are also more likely to suffer adverse events later in life.

Researchers said the latest findings highlight the need for strategies to prevent obesity in women of childbearing age and the need to assess the children of obese mothers for their cardiovascular risk.

Using birth and death records from 1950 to the present day, researchers identified 28,540 women - whose body mass index (BMI) was recorded at their first antenatal visit - and their 37,709 offspring who were aged between 34 and 61 at the time of follow up.

Researchers said that 21 percent of the mothers were overweight and 4 percent were obese. Among the 37,709 offspring there were 6,551 premature deaths from any cause. Among the deceased, 294 had had obese mothers at birth.

The study revealed that the risk of premature death was 35 percent higher in the adult offspring of obese mothers compared to those whose mothers had had normal weight. Researchers said this was true even after accounting for factors including the mother's age at delivery, number of previous pregnancies, mother and father's social class and infant sex, birth weight and gestation at delivery.

Children of obese mother were also 42 percent more likely to be admitted to hospital for a cardiovascular event compared with children of mothers with normal weight. Researchers found that offspring of overweight mothers also had a higher risk of adverse events later in life.

Researchers explain that being overweight in pregnancy may cause permanent changes in appetite control and energy metabolism in the offspring, which can lead to greater risk of heart problems later in life.

The findings are published in the British Medical Journal.

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