A new study suggests that a baby’s development in the womb in the first weeks of life is critical for cardiovascular health in later life.
A link between poor growth in the first trimester and early risk factors for heart disease has been identified for the first time, the BBC reported.
The study adds to the 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).
They reported that impaired first trimester foetal growth is associated with an adverse cardiovascular risk profile in school age children.
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.
The study is published in the British Medical Journal.