Baby heart-disease risk ‘shaped early in pregnancy’

A baby’s development in the womb in the first weeks of life is critical for future heart health, research suggests.

A link between poor growth in the first trimester and early risk factors for heart disease has been identified for the first time.

The study, in the British Medical Journal, adds to evidence that heart risk is set long before adulthood.

Pregnant women should think about their baby’s heart health as well as their own, the British Heart Foundation said.

The evidence comes from a study tracking the health, from early pregnancy onwards, of nearly 2,000 children born in the Dutch city of Rotterdam.

A team at the Erasmus University Medical School examined links between the child’s size at the first scan (10 to 13 weeks) and markers of future cardiovascular health at the age of six (central body fat, high blood pressure, high insulin levels and high cholesterol).

“Impaired first trimester foetal growth is associated with an adverse cardiovascular risk profile in school age children,” they reported in the British Medical Journal.

“Early foetal life may be a critical period for cardiovascular health in later life.”

Low birth weight is known to be linked to an increased risk of heart disease in later life. But the new research suggests not only birth weight but poor growth in the earliest phase of pregnancy may influence cardiovascular disease risk.

“These results suggest that the first trimester of pregnancy may be a critical period for development of offspring cardiovascular risk factors in later life,” study author Prof Vincent Jaddoe told BBC News.

“Therefore adverse maternal lifestyle habits influencing early foetal growth may have persistent consequences for their offspring, many decades later. ”

This was the first study showing this link and replication in other studies was needed, he added.

Critical stage
Amy Thompson, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said the first few months of pregnancy were a critical stage in a baby’s development.

“This study suggests that foetal growth within this time may influence their heart health later in life,” she said.

“However, as the researchers acknowledge themselves, further studies are needed to understand why this pattern exists and what it might mean for preventing heart disease.

“If you are pregnant, or planning a family, you should be thinking about your baby’s heart health as well as your own,” she added.

“If you smoke, speak to your GP or midwife about quitting, and keep a check on your blood pressure.

“Your midwife will also advise you on other ways you can make healthier choices during pregnancy.”

Source: BBC news

New method to keep track of heart risks

A new method to calculate the risk of heart diseases has been provided by the a study conducted by the National Heart Institute.

The Framingham Heart Study was started in 1948 to learn more about heart diseases and strokes and determine the common risk factors for cardiovascular disease, Fox News reported.

The long-term study has determined key risk factors that can increase a person’s chance of experiencing heart disease or a heart attack over their lifetime, which will help people in adopting lifestyle changes and treatments.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women and nearly 800,000 Americans experiencing a heart attack every year.

Source: DNA India

Early start to weight gain tied to later heart risks

Kids who start rapidly gaining weight early in childhood are more likely to have higher blood pressure and other signs of future heart trouble as preteens, a new study suggests.

“There’s a natural tendency early in life for children to thin out as they grow taller and gain stature faster than they gain weight,” Dr. Mark D. DeBoer said.

But eventually, all kids hit a point when they start gaining weight at a faster pace, and their body mass index (BMI) – a measure of weight in relation to height – begins to rise. That point is called the adiposity rebound.

The adiposity rebound typically happens around age four to six, DeBoer, who studies childhood obesity at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, told Reuters Health.

Some studies have suggested children who start to put on weight at a younger age are more likely to be obese later in life. The new report adds to those concerns.

“It helps I think give us a better understanding of what this might be impacting in addition to obesity,” Dr. Stephen Daniels said.

Daniels studies preventive cardiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, where he chairs the Pediatrics Department. Neither he nor DeBoer was involved in the new study.

Researchers led by Dr. Satomi Koyama of Dokkyo Medical University in Mibu, Tochigi, Japan, followed 271 children born in 1995 and 1996. Kids had their weight and height measured at least once every year through age 12 during infant health checks and then physical exams at school.

From looking at each child’s growth pattern, the researchers determined when children hit their lowest BMI, the age at adiposity rebound. After that, they got bigger every year.

Koyama’s team found the earlier both boys and girls reached that turning point, the heavier they were at age 12.

For instance, boys who started getting bigger around age three had an average BMI of 21 as preteens. That’s the equivalent of a five-foot-tall boy weighing 108 pounds.

Boys who didn’t start getting bigger until at least age seven had an average BMI of 17 – the equivalent of the same boy weighing 87 pounds.

Boys who had their adiposity rebound at a young age also had higher triglycerides and blood pressure at age 12. Although their numbers were still in the normal range, they could hint at signs of future heart problems, the researchers wrote Monday in Pediatrics.

For girls, the link between age at adiposity rebound and heart risks was smaller but still visible.

“Physicians should be tracking body mass index and should be checking for kids who are headed in the direction of being more obese,” Daniels said.

But, he told Reuters Health, parents and pediatricians won’t be able to tell exactly when children are at their adiposity rebound. And it’s not clear how to prevent it from happening early.

“There’s a strong possibility that these are children who inherited a genetic predisposition that made them more likely both to have early adiposity rebound and to have metabolic syndrome earlier in life,” DeBoer said.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors, including high blood pressure, that are linked to heart disease.

“The message is probably still more general, in terms of families working with pediatricians and family physicians to make sure that families have a healthy diet (and) that they have healthy opportunities for activity,” Daniels said.

Source: Reuters