A new UK study suggests children born to obese mothers are more likely to die early as adults than those whose mothers were a normal weight.
Researchers from the universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen discovered the offspring of obese mothers are one-third more likely to die before the age of 55 — mainly as a result of heart disease.
Children born to mothers who were overweight when they became pregnant were also 10 per cent more likely to die prematurely in later life than those born to mothers of a normal weight.
For the study, researchers examined the health records of more than 37,000 babies delivered between 1950 and 1976.
Investigators found children of mothers who were obese had increased hospital admissions in later life with heart problems including angina, heart attacks and strokes.
The cardiovascular conditions were almost one-third greater than for children born to mothers with a normal body weight.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), follows previous research which found that offspring born to obese mothers were more likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
During the timeframe of the study one in 25 expectant mothers was obese. Today, it is estimated at around one in five pregnant women are obese.
Study co-author Rebecca Reynolds, M.D., Ph.D., said: “As obesity among pregnant women is rising, along with levels of obesity in the general population, our findings are of major public health concern.
“This study highlights the need for more research to better understand and prevent the impact of obesity during pregnancy for offspring in later life and the biological processes at work.”
The births analyzed took place in Aberdeen, and factors such as socioeconomic status were taken into consideration.
Co-author Dr. Sohinee Bhattacharya, of the University of Aberdeen, said: “This study highlights the importance of weight management in mothers and their offspring.
“We need to find out how to help young women and their children control their weight better so that chronic disease risk is not transmitted from generation to generation.”
Many believe efforts to combat obesity need to start at conception as research shows that eating a healthy diet and getting moderate exercise while pregnant can make a big difference.
Source: University of Edinburgh