Cardiovascular risk factors track from mother to child
Journal of the American Heart Association , Volume 7 - Issue 19
Background Cardiovascular risk factors can track from mother to child by several pathways: pregnancy complications, genetic inheritance, and shared environmental risk factors after pregnancy. The degree of tracking, and to which extent this is influenced by these pathways, is unknown. We hypothesized that cardiovascular risk factors track from mother to child regardless of pregnancy complications and environmental risk factors. We determined the degree of tracking between maternal and offspring micro‐ and macrovascular cardiovascular risk factors after pregnancy and the extent to which this is influenced by pregnancy complications and shared environmental risk factors.
Methods and Results We included 5624 mother‐offspring pairs from The Generation R Study, an ongoing prospective, population‐based birth cohort. Information on pregnancy complications (preeclampsia, small for gestational age, and preterm birth) was obtained through hospital charts.
Mother‐offspring associations were assessed 6 years after pregnancy (central retinal arteriolar and venular calibers, body mass index, blood pressure, left atrial diameter, aortic root diameter, left ventricular mass, fractional shortening, and pulse wave velocity) and 9 years after pregnancy (body mass index and blood pressure). We observed that worse cardiovascular parameters in mothers were associated with worse cardiovascular parameters in their offspring 6 and 9 years after pregnancy (P<0.001). Results were similar when mother‐offspring pairs with a previous pregnancy complication were excluded.
Conclusions Six and 9 years after pregnancy, an adverse cardiovascular profile in mothers is strongly associated with an adverse cardiovascular profile in their offspring. Results were not attenuated by environmental exposures or a previous pregnancy complication. This supports the hypothesis that cardiovascular risk factors (micro‐ and macrovascular) track from mother to child, regardless of the course of pregnancy.