Children of obese moms might have higher risk for early death

Babies born to extremely overweight mothers are more at risk for dying younger from cardiovascular-related problems, a new study suggests.

Research published in the British Medical Journal found that offspring of obese moms had a 35-percent increased chance of premature death, as well as a 29-percent increased risk for hospital admissions based on a cardiovascular event.

Maternal obesity rates rising

The findings highlight "the urgent need for strategies to prevent obesity in women of childbearing age and the need to assess the offspring of obese mothers for their cardiovascular risk," reported a statement on the study.

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Maternal obesity rates are on the rise, the study authors noted – 64 percent of U.S. women in the reproductive age range are overweight and 35 percent are obese. Similar patterns are starting to emerge in Europe, too.

The study analyzed birth records dating back to 1950 identifying the BMIs of 28,540 women and relevant details about their pregnancies, such as a mother's age at delivery, social class and the infant's birth weight. Twenty-one percent of the mothers in the study were overweight and 4 percent were obese.

Unalterable changes?

Previous studies have suggested that being overweight in pregnancy can cause permanent patterns to emerge in a child's appetite control and energy metabolism later in life. Compounded with research published earlier this year that suggests a father's weight at the time of conception can affect his offspring's risk for serious health complications, would-be parents have a responsibility to become healthier before they conceive.

The authors call maternal obesity a "major public health concern," confirming that the children of this population are a high-risk group who should be monitored for cardiovascular risk at repeated intervals throughout childhood and young adulthood to prevent complications later in life.

"As one in five women in the U.K. is currently obese at antenatal booking, strategies to optimize weight before pregnancy are urgently required," the researchers concluded.

Source: British Medical Journal

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