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High blood pressure in pregnancy linked to child obesity

Pregnant women with high blood pressure are twice as likely to have obese children, a study claims.   

Researchers studied pregnant women and found their children were 49 percent more likely to suffer from obesity if their mother had high blood pressure during the second trimester.  

Childhood obesity is a problem around the world with 42 million children obese in 2013. 

This increases the risk the child will have future heart and blood pressure problems.

Experts recommend doctors to closely monitor blood pressure in the middle to end of someone’s pregnancy to decrease the risk of childhood obesity developing in a child.

Pregnant mothers who have high blood pressure into their second and third trimester are more likely to have children who suffer from childhood obesity. Experts recommend doctors to monitor blood pressure closely to prevent risk of future obesity for the child (file photo)

Researchers from Qingdao University, China, and the University of Cambridge, UK, examined the blood pressure levels and weight of mother-child pairs in southeastern China from 1999 to 2013.  

The mothers would have their blood pressure taken during each of the three trimesters of the pregnancy. 

Follow-up visits of the children were done when they were between the ages of four to seven.

Among women who were hypertensive during the second trimester, their children were 49 percent more likely to be categorized as overweight or to have obesity compared to children of mothers who had lower blood pressure levels. 

‘Our study is the first to demonstrate that among pregnant women, elevated blood pressure is associated with a greater risk of overweight and obesity for their children,’ said the study’s first author, Dr Ju-Sheng Zheng, from Qingdao University.

‘The risk still existed for children of women who didn’t have hypertension, but whose blood pressure during pregnancy was at the high end of the normal range.’

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can cause a decrease in placental blood flow to the fetus, future cardiovascular disease and premature delivery. 

Children of women with high blood pressure during the third trimester were 14 percent more likely to meet the criteria for overweight or obesity. 

The mother’s body size prior to pregnancy did not affect the association. 

Childhood obesity has become an international public health problem. 

An estimated 42 million children aged five and younger met the criteria for having obesity or being overweight, according to the World Health Organization’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity.

This has increased from the 32 million children who suffered from it in 1990.  

Childhood obesity can increase risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and musculoskeletal disorders. 

‘The results indicate that all pregnant women and their doctors should monitor and try to limit a substantial increase in blood pressure in mid-to-late pregnancy,’ Dr Zheng said. 

‘This may help reduce the likelihood of their children being affected by obesity.’   


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