posted in Pregnancy
Avoiding blood pressure spikes during the later stages of pregnancy may help reduce your child’s risk of becoming obese, according to a new study.
High blood pressure during pregnancy is already known to increase the risk of problems such as cesarean birth, preterm birth and placental abruption. But the latest study by researchers in China and the United Kingdom indicates a new danger: elevated blood pressure in pregnancy may increase a baby’s risk of developing childhood obesity by up to 50 percent.
Scientists studied more than 88,000 mom-child pairs in southeastern China between 1999 and 2013. The moms’ blood pressure was measured during each trimester of pregnancy. Then, researchers followed up with their children multiple times between ages 4 and 7. About 10 percent of the children became overweight or obese.
The researchers discovered that, during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, each 10-unit increase in a mom’s top (systolic) or bottom (diastolic) blood pressure number increased her child’s risk of obesity by 5 to 8 percent.
High blood pressure during the 2nd trimester was particularly troublesome, the researchers found. Among women whose blood pressure spiked above 140/90 during that period, their child’s risk of becoming obese increased 49 percent compared to children born to moms with lower blood pressure readings in the 2nd trimester.
In the 3rd trimester, a blood pressure reading above 140/90 resulted in a 14 percent increase in childhood obesity risk.
The researchers controlled for factors such as the mom’s age, weight and education level.
This study doesn’t prove that high blood pressure causes obesity, it just indicates an association between the two. Many other factors such as prenatal weight gain and caesarean section have also been tied to childhood obesity risk. Also, this study was focused on women in one part of China and may not directly apply to women in the United States, where diets, genes and other factors are generally different.
Even so, the findings emphasize the importance of keeping track of your blood pressure throughout pregnancy so that any problems can be addressed promptly. To help keep blood pressure under control get regular prenatal checkups, eat healthy food, exercise and steer clear of alcohol, cigarettes and illicit drugs.
What do you think of this study’s findings? Have concerns about future obesity risk influenced your decisions during pregnancy?
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