Obese women can cause long term cardiovascular problems for their babies, according to the UPBEAT trial on exercise, diet and pregnancy; the solution is to lose weight before birth through diet and physical activity.
The British Heart Foundation is supporting a study at King’s College, London on how ante-natal diet and exercise programmes can benefit obese women, not least because they have more problems with birth. The study revisits the women and their children three years after birth. The UPBEAT trial is a randomised controlled trial aiming to improve the health of women giving birth and their offspring, through diet and physical activity.
It compares obese women with a control group who made no changes during pregrancy.
In the follow-up examinations, three years after birth, the children had a blood pressure on average 5 points below those in the control group, and, by and large the women had stayed with the programme.
Cardiovascular disease and being overweight often starts in the young. Record levels of obesity are occurring in 11-year old children in the UK and higher blood pressure is known to be linked to hypertension, strokes and cardiovascular disease later in life.
Professor Lucilla Poston said that the event of pregnancy offered a real motivation for women to change their lifestyles for the better.
The children will be contacted again when they are 8, and then at 10 years of age.
- Kathryn V. Dalrymple et al. Adiposity and cardiovascular outcomes in three‐year‐old children of participants in UPBEAT, an RCT of a complex intervention in pregnant women with obesity. Pediatric Obesity, 2020 DOI: 10.1111/ijpo.12725