One more reason to lose weight

It has long been known that being overweight poses health risks to women of childbearing age. Now a new study says this excess weight also may affect their children—and not just their weight.

The research, presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2014, revealed that adults whose mothers were overweight or obese before pregnancy have a dramatically elevated risk of dying from heart disease or stroke.

Previous studies had shown that people whose mothers were overweight before pregnancy were at higher risk for obesity, diabetes and elevated cholesterol. This study, on 879 participants (52 percent female, average age 32 when the study began) in the Framingham Heart Study, examined whether that translated into higher rates of cardiovascular disease and death.

Compared with adults whose mothers had not been overweight, the study found that offspring of overweight or obese mothers were at 90 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease or death. Those offspring’s own risk factors, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, appeared to account for some of that difference. The results of this study support efforts to reduce obesity among young women before childbearing years, the researchers said.

Currently more than one-half of pregnant women in the Unites States are overweight or obese, according to statistics from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If you’re one of them, work with your doctor to lose the weight before you get pregnant.

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