Hypertension and Diabetes in Pregnancy: New Study Reveals Long-Term Cardiovascular Health Impact on Children

Study suggests that pregnancy complications could lead to poorer cardiovascular health for the child

A new study to be presented at The Pregnancy Meeting™ of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine will reveal findings suggesting that hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) and gestational diabetes (GDM) may negatively impact a child’s cardiovascular health.

Researchers conducted a secondary analysis of 3,317 maternal-child pairings from the prospective Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome Follow-up Study (HAPO FUS), seeking to determine the connection between HDP and GDM and a child’s cardiovascular health. They found that 8 percent of women developed high blood pressure during pregnancy, 12 percent developed gestational diabetes, and three percent developed both high blood pressure and diabetes.

The study’s lead author, Kartik K. Venkatesh, MD, PhD, noted that these findings are crucial as they suggest that what happens in the womb can affect a child across their lifespan. The children’s cardiovascular health was determined by examining their body mass index, blood pressure, total cholesterol levels and glucose levels ten to fourteen years after delivery.

The results showed that 55.5 percent of the children had at least one non-ideal metric, increasing their risk of heart disease and stroke. This highlights the importance of monitoring pregnant women for HDP and GDM as it could have long-term effects on their children’s cardiovascular health.

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