Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A mother's high cholesterol before pregnancy can be passed on to children

Date:
October 17, 2013
Source:
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Summary:
What leads to high cholesterol? Your genes and lifestyle factors may not explain it all. A study has connected some of the risk for high cholesterol in adults to their mother's cholesterol levels before she even became pregnant.

What leads to high cholesterol? Your genes and lifestyle factors may not explain it all. A study presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress has connected some of the risk for high cholesterol in adults to their mother's cholesterol levels before she even became pregnant.

The key finding: if a mother had high LDL ("bad") cholesterol prior to a pregnancy, her children are almost five times as likely to also have high LDL cholesterol as adults.

"Maternal health and exposures in the womb may be important in modifying cardiovascular disease risks for their offspring," says author Dr. Michael Mendelson, a clinical and research fellow at Boston Children's Hospital. "One exposure that hasn't been explored well is high cholesterol in young women of childbearing age. We wanted to know: does this pose an extra risk for the child?"

The study analyzed clinical and laboratory data gathered from the three generations of participants in the Framingham Heart Study (FHS). This ongoing study goes back to 1948 and led the way to identifying risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

"No one else was measuring cholesterol in young healthy people in the 1950s, let alone young women before pregnancy, so we could leverage the FHS information to look at this issue," says Dr. Mendelson.

The FHS began with an original cohort of 5,200 adult men and women from Framingham, Mass., who had not yet developed overt symptoms of cardiovascular disease.

For this study, the sample included adult offspring of the first and second generation subjects and drew on the maternal examinations prior to the participants' birth.

"What we found was that maternal cholesterol before pregnancy was associated with important cardiovascular disease risk factors among adult offspring," says Dr. Mendelson. "The association was stronger for high cholesterol in mothers before pregnancy as compared to those with high cholesterol after pregnancy."

The study comes from the cutting-edge field of epigenetics, which looks at how our genes can be switched on and off by environmental changes.

"The risk of developing high cholesterol is not fully explained by known genetic and lifestyle factors," says Dr. Mendelson. "Influences which may play a role in turning genes on or off -- such as exposure to high cholesterol in the womb -- may have a lasting effect in regulating cholesterol levels, even decades later."

The next step is to look at the mechanisms of why this happens, says Dr. Mendelson. Ultimately, this line of research may lead to finding new ways to break the trans-generational cycle of abnormal cholesterol levels and death from cardiovascular disease.

Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson notes that the research reconfirms the importance of managing cholesterol levels throughout life.

"While the concept of 'turning on' genes is exciting when looking at the mechanisms of disease, it's sometimes hard to tease out whether the risk is passed on through lifestyle choices or genes. Regardless, the implications are serious. We need to manage our cholesterol to protect ourselves and our children."

High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. It can lead to a buildup of plaque in the artery walls and narrowing of the arteries, causing a condition called atherosclerosis which can make it more difficult for blood to flow through the heart and body.

"Fortunately, we know a great deal about heart disease prevention and how to reverse some of the risks," says Dr. Abramson.

She urges Canadians to maintain their heart health through regular visits to their doctor, being physically active and smoke free, following a healthy diet and reducing stress and excessive alcohol consumption. "We all can manage cholesterol through diet, lifestyle, and where appropriate with medication. Taking medications as directed by your physician can help further reduce risks."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. "A mother's high cholesterol before pregnancy can be passed on to children." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131017080700.htm>.
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. (2013, October 17). A mother's high cholesterol before pregnancy can be passed on to children. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131017080700.htm
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. "A mother's high cholesterol before pregnancy can be passed on to children." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131017080700.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, cut full-year revenue forecasts because generics could cut into sales of its anti-arthritis drug, Celebrex. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nigeria Ups Ebola Stakes on 1st Death

Nigeria Ups Ebola Stakes on 1st Death

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Nigerian authorities have shut and quarantined a Lagos hospital where a Liberian man died of the Ebola virus, the first recorded case of the highly-infectious disease in Africa's most populous economy. David Pollard reports Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Running 5 Minutes A Day Might Add Years To Your Life

Running 5 Minutes A Day Might Add Years To Your Life

Newsy (July 29, 2014) According to a new study, just five minutes of running or jogging a day could add years to your life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Poses Little Threat To U.S.: CDC

Ebola Outbreak Poses Little Threat To U.S.: CDC

Newsy (July 29, 2014) The Ebola outbreak in West Africa poses little threat to Americans, according to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins