Hypertension, Diabetes in Pregnancy Tied to Offspring’s Later Heart Health

Pregnant individuals with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) and/or gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) are more likely to have children with worse cardiovascular health (CVH) 10 to 14 years after their delivery, according to a study presented at The Pregnancy Meeting, the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, held from Feb. 10 to 14 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Black American women are more likely to experience gestational hypertension and women of color are at higher risk for gestational diabetes.

Kartik Kailas Venkatesh, M.D., Ph.D., from The Ohio State University in Columbus, and colleagues examined the association of HDP and GDM with CVH (determined by four metrics: body mass index, blood pressure, total cholesterol level, and glucose level) in early adolescence (ages 10 to 14 years). The analysis included 3,317 assessed maternal-child dyads participating in the Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome Follow-up Study.

The researchers found that individuals with HDP alone (adjusted relative risk [aRR], 1.16; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.04 to 1.28), GDM alone (aRR, 1.11; 95 percent CI, 1.02 to 1.21), and both HDP and GDM (aRR, 1.17; 95 percent CI, 1.00 to 1.38) were more likely to have children with less-than-ideal CVH 10 to 14 years after delivery. These associations strengthened in magnitude as the adverse CVH metrics increased in number and severity.

“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,” Venkatesh said in a statement. “These data suggest that’s not the case and that what happens in the womb can affect the child across their lifespan.”

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