Maternal heart health in pregnancy appears to impact child’s heart health

Miranda Hester

Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.

A report adds cardiovascular health in pregnancy as another determining factor of a child’s future health.

A mother’s health in pregnancy can have implications for her health after delivery, but research has found ample proof that it also has implications on her offspring’s future health. A report in JAMA studied whether maternal cardiovascular health during pregnancy was linked to the offspring cardiovascular health in early adolescence.1

The researchers used data from the Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO) Study, which ran from July 2000 to April 2006 and the HAPO Follow-Up Study, which ran from February 2013 to December 2016. The studies looked at mother-child pairs from 9 field centers in the United States, Barbados, United Kingdom, China, Thailand, and Canada. The study looked at the mother’s cardiovascular health at 28 weeks’ gestational health using 5 metrics: body mass index, blood pressure, total cholesterol level, glucose level, and smoking. The mother’s health in each metric was categorized as ideal, intermediate, or poor. Total cardiovascular health was categorized as all ideal metrics, 1 or more intermediate with 0 poor metrics, 1 poor metric, and 2 or more poor metrics. Offspring cardiovascular health was measured at ages 10 to 14 years and was based on 4 metrics: body mass index, blood pressure, total cholesterol level, and glucose level. Total cardiovascular health of offspring was categorized in the same manner as the mothers.

A total of 2302 pairs were included in the study. The mothers had an average age of 29.6 at the time of pregnancy and the children had an average age of 11.3 years. The average maternal cardiovascular health during pregnancy was 8.6 out of 10. The prevalence of all ideal metrics was 32.8% (95% CI, 30.6%-35.1%), 31.7% (95% CI, 29.4%-34.0%) for 1 or more intermediate metrics, 29.5% (95% CI, 27.2%-31.7%) for 1 poor metric, and 6.0% (95% CI, 3.8%-8.3%) for 2 or more poor metrics. Among these women’s children, the prevalence was:

  • children of mothers with all ideal metrics, the prevalence of all ideal metrics was 42.2% (95% CI, 38.4%-46.2%), 36.7% (95% CI, 32.9%-40.7%) for 1 or more intermediate metrics, 18.4% (95% CI, 14.6%-22.4%) for 1 poor metric, and 2.6% (95% CI, 0%-6.6%) for 2 or more poor metrics
  • children of mothers with 2 or more poor metrics, the prevalence of all ideal metrics was 30.7% (95% CI, 22.0%-40.4%), 28.3% (95% CI, 19.7%-38.1%) for 1 or more intermediate metrics, 30.7% (95% CI, 22.0%-40.4%) for 1 poor metric, and 10.2% (95% CI, 1.6%-20.0%) for 2 or more poor metrics

Adjusting for categorical birth factors such as preeclampsia were not enough to fully explain the association between maternal cardiovascular health in pregnancy and the child’s cardiovascular health.

The researchers concluded that a mother having better cardiovascular health at 28 weeks’ gestation had a significant link to her child having better cardiovascular health at ages 10 to 14 years.

Reference

1. Perak A, Lancki N, Kuang A, et al. Associations of maternal cardiovascular health in pregnancy with offspring cardiovascular health in early adolescence. JAMA. 2021;325(7):658-668. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.0247