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Children of obese mothers 35 per cent more like to die early - study

A joint study by the University of Edinburgh and Columbia University in New York has found that children of overweight mothers are more likely to suffer from heart disease.

Obese mother carrying daughter on shoulders, exercising
Obese mother carrying daughter on shoulders, exercising
Image: Kavring via Shutterstock

CHILDREN WHO ARE born to mothers who are overweight are more likely to suffer from heart disease later in life, a new study has found.

The BMJ study’s authors say that their findings show the need for strategies to tackle the levels of obesity in women of childbearing age, as well as the need to assess children for cardiovascular risk.

In the US, about 64 per cent of women of childbearing age are overweight, with 35 per cent obese. The numbers are similar Europe-wide.

Using birth and death records from 1950 to the present day, a team of researchers at the University of Edinburgh identified 28,540 women and their 37,709 children. The women’s body mass index (BMI) was registered at their first antenatal visit.

Among the mothers, 21 per cent were overweight and 4 per cent were obese.

Amongst the children, there were 6,551 deaths from any cause before the age of 55.

After adjusting for several factors, the researchers found a 35 per cent increase in the risk of premature death in the children of obese mothers.

They also found a 29 per cent increased risk of a hospital admission for a cardiovascular event in the adult offspring of obese mothers compared with offspring of mothers with normal BMI.

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Dr Pam Factor-Litvak from the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University in New York, says that this study leaves open two questions.

“First, what is the role of the early post natal environment and secondly, what is the role of parental obesity?”

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