Poor heart health during pregnancy tied to worse cardiovascular health in children, study finds

Children born to mothers considered to be in the poorest category of cardiovascular health face an eight-times higher risk for poor heart health during adolescence, compared to children born to mothers with ideal heart health during their pregnancy, according to research published Feb. 16 in Journal of the American Medical Association. 

Researchers from Chicago-based Northwestern Medicine, and the Ann and Robert Lurie Children's Hospital used data from a previous observational study that included 2,302 mother-child pairs spanning six countries. In that study, pregnancies occurred between 2000 and 2006 and children were evaluated between ages 10 and 14. In the latest study, researchers used the American Heart Association's definition for cardiovascular health to categorize pregnant mothers' heart health. 

For mothers with the poorest heart health during pregnancy, the risk for their children having the poorest heart health between the ages of 10 and 14 was eight times higher than children born to mothers with ideal heart health. Among pregnant mothers considered to have intermediate heart health, the risk for their children having the poorest cardiovascular health during early adolescence was two times higher than mothers with the healthiest hearts. 

The study was the first to consider the associations between maternal heart health and their child's heart health in the longer term, according to a news release. 

"The children in this study are soon going to be adults, and as a next step, we'd like to measure cardiovascular health and signs of early cardiovascular disease as they enter adulthood," said Amanda Perak, MD, lead study author. 

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