Pregnancy complications can also affect child's health later in life

Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy can have adverse effects on childrenIANS file photo

Two of the most frequent pregnancy problems are hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) and gestational diabetes (GDM), which increase pregnant people's risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life.

A new study to be presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's (SMFM) annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, suggested that pregnancy problems may lead to poor cardiovascular health for the kid. The findings were published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

In a secondary analysis of 3,317 maternal-child pairings from the prospective Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome Follow-up Study (HAPO FUS), researchers examined whether there was a connection between hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and gestational diabetes and a child's cardiovascular health.

On the maternal side, 8 per cent developed high blood pressure during pregnancy, 12 per cent developed gestational diabetes, and 3 per cent developed both high blood pressure and diabetes.

Researchers then examined the child's cardiovascular health 10 to 14 years after delivery. Cardiovascular health was evaluated based on four metrics: body mass index, blood pressure, total cholesterol, and glucose level. Pediatric guidelines categorized each metric as ideal, intermediate, or poor.

Researchers found that before the age of 12 (median age: 11.6), more than half of the children (55.5 per cent) had at least one metric that was non-ideal, which puts them at greater risk of heart disease and stroke.

"These findings are important because traditionally, the thinking has been that a person's risk of developing cardiovascular disease starts after birth -- that everyone starts at the same point," said the study's lead author Kartik K Venkatesh, MD, PhD.

Kartik K Venkatesh is a maternal-fetal medicine subspecialist and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, assistant professor of epidemiology and director of the Diabetes in Pregnancy Programme at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.

“These data suggest that's not the case and that what happens in the womb can affect the child across their lifespan,” he added.

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