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Diet and exercise for obese mothers protects cardiovascular risk in infants

Date:
October 24, 2022
Source:
King's College London
Summary:
A lifestyle intervention of diet and exercise in pregnancy protects against cardiovascular risk in infants, a new study has found.
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A lifestyle intervention of diet and exercise in pregnancy protects against cardiovascular risk in infants, a new study has found.

The study, published recently in the International Journal of Obesity by researchers from King's College London and funded by the British Heart Foundation, found that 3-year-old children were more likely to exhibit risk factors for future heart disease if their mother was clinically obese during pregnancy. A behavioural lifestyle intervention reduced this risk.

In the UK, more than half the women attending antenatal care are clinically overweight or obese. There is increasing evidence to suggest that obesity in pregnancy is associated with cardiometabolic dysfunction in children, and that serious cardiovascular disease may begin in the womb.

The UPBEAT trial, conducted at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, randomised women with obesity (a BMI of over 30 kg/m2) in early pregnancy to a diet and exercise intervention or to standard pregnancy care. The intervention included one-to-one counselling, restricting dietary intake of saturated fat, eating foods with a low glycaemic index such as vegetables and legumes, moderate and monitored physical activity and tools to record exercise. The intervention arm saw improvements in weight gain in pregnancy, physical activity, a healthier diet, and a healthier metabolic profile across pregnancy.

Follow-up of the children at three years of age showed that children of women with clinical obesity had evidence of cardiac remodelling, a risk factor for future cardiovascular disease. Changes included increased heart muscle thickness, elevated resting heart rate, evidence of early impairment to the heart's relaxation function and increased sympathetic nerve activity ('fight or flight' response) compared to women of normal weight. The children of women who were allocated to the intervention arm were protected from these early changes in heart structure and function.

Study lead Dr Paul Taylor, from King's College London, said: "Maternal obesity appears to adversely impact the developing fetal nervous system and fetal heart development which is apparent up to 3 years-of-age. A complex lifestyle intervention in pregnancy was associated with protection against cardiac remodelling in infants. We can hypothesise that these changes to the heart and its function will get worse over time, putting the child at increased risk of cardiovascular disease in the future."

The study suggests that maternal obesity may have a lasting impact on the child's cardiovascular health. Promoting dietary changes and physical activity during pregnancy may reduce this risk.


Story Source:

Materials provided by King's College London. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paul D. Taylor, Haotian Gu, Hannah Saunders, Federico Fiori, Kathryn V. Dalrymple, Priyanka Sethupathi, Liana Yamanouchi, Faith Miller, Bethany Jones, Matias C. Vieira, Claire Singh, Annette Briley, Paul T. Seed, Dharmintra Pasupathy, Paramala J. Santosh, Alan M. Groves, Manish D. Sinha, Philip J. Chowienczyk, Lucilla Poston, Lucilla Poston, Andrew Shennan, Annette Briley, Claire Singh, Paul Seed, Jane Sandall, Thomas Sanders, Nashita Patel, Angela Flynn, Shirlene Badger, Suzanne Barr, Bridget Holmes, Louise Goff, Clare Hunt, Judy Filmer, Jeni Fetherstone, Laura Scholtz, Hayley Tarft, Anna Lucas, Tsigerada Tekletdadik, Deborah Ricketts, Carolyn Gill, Alex Seroge Ignatian, Catherine Boylen, Funso Adegoke, Elodie Lawley, James Butler, Rahat Maitland, Matias Vieira, Dharmintra Pasupathy, Eugene Oteng-Ntim, Nina Khazaezadeh, Jill Demilew, Sile O’Connor, Yvonne Evans, Susan O’Donnell, Ari de la Llera, Georgina Gutzwiller, Linda Hagg, Stephen Robson, Ruth Bell, Louise Hayes, Tarja Kinnunen, Catherine McParlin, Nicola Miller, Alison Kimber, Jill Riches, Carly Allen, Claire Boag, Fiona Campbell, Andrea Fenn, Sarah Ritson, Alison Rennie, Robin Durkin, Gayle Gills, Roger Carr, Scott Nelson, Naveed Sattar, Therese McSorley, Hilary Alba, Kirsteen Paterson, Janet Johnston, Suzanne Clements, Maxine Fernon, Savannah Bett, Laura Rooney, Sinead Miller, Paul Welsh, Lynn Cherry, Melissa Whitworth, Natalie Patterson, Sarah Lee, Rachel Grimshaw, Christine Hughes, Jay Brown, Kim Hinshaw, Gillian Campbell, Joanne Knight, Diane Farrar, Vicky Jones, Gillian Butterfield, Jennifer Syson, Jennifer Eadle, Dawn Wood, Merane Todd, Asma Khalil, Deborah Brown, Paola Fernandez, Emma Cousins, Melody Smith, Jane Wardle, Helen Croker, Laura Broomfield, Weight Concern, Keith Godfrey, Sian Robinson, Sarah Canadine, Lynne Greenwood. Lifestyle intervention in obese pregnancy and cardiac remodelling in 3-year olds: children of the UPBEAT RCT. International Journal of Obesity, 2022; DOI: 10.1038/s41366-022-01210-3

Cite This Page:

King's College London. "Diet and exercise for obese mothers protects cardiovascular risk in infants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/10/221024102917.htm>.
King's College London. (2022, October 24). Diet and exercise for obese mothers protects cardiovascular risk in infants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 22, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/10/221024102917.htm
King's College London. "Diet and exercise for obese mothers protects cardiovascular risk in infants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/10/221024102917.htm (accessed April 22, 2024).

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