Overweight mothers who smoke while pregnant can damage baby's heart

January 30, 2012

Mums-to-be who are both overweight and smoke during their pregnancy risk damaging their baby's developing heart, finds research published online in Heart.

Congenital heart abnormalities are some of the most common defects found at birth, with around eight in every 1000 babies affected. A likely cause is only found in 15% of cases.

The authors base their findings on an analysis of almost 800 babies and foetuses who were born with congenital heart abnormalities, but no other defects, between 1997 and 2008.

These babies were compared with 322 children and who were born with chromosomal abnormalities, but without any heart defects.

The analysis pointed to an enhanced damaging effect for a combination of overweight and smoking as opposed to one of these factors alone, after taking account of influential factors, such as the mother's and .

Mums to be who both smoked and were overweight, with a BMI of 25 or more, were more than 2.5 times as likely to have a child with a as women who either smoked or were overweight, but not both.

The risk of outflow tract obstructive abnormalities, whereby blood flow from the ventricles of the heart to the pulmonary artery or aorta is reduced/blocked, more than tripled in babies born to overweight mums who smoked while pregnant.

"These results indicate that maternal smoking and overweight may both be involved in the same pathway that causes congenital heart defects," write the authors.

While the exact mode of action is not clear, they point to disturbances in , which is independently associated with obesity and smoking, and which results in lower levels of "good" cholesterol and higher levels of "bad" cholesterol.

The findings add to the growing body of evidence for the links between smoking and overweight during pregnancy with, variously, miscarriage/stillbirth, stunted growth, and premature birth, say the authors.

Explore further: Pre-pregnancy overweight may program teen asthma symptoms

Related Stories

Pre-pregnancy overweight may program teen asthma symptoms

August 16, 2011

Mums who are overweight or obese when they become pregnant may be programming their children to have asthma-like respiratory symptoms during adolescence, suggests research published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and ...

Recommended for you

Yo-yo dieting might cause extra weight gain

December 5, 2016

Repeated dieting may lead to weight gain because the brain interprets the diets as short famines and urges the person to store more fat for future shortages, new research by the universities of Exeter and Bristol suggests.

New target receptor discovered in the fight against obesity

November 25, 2016

The team of scientists from King's College London and Imperial College London tested a high-fat diet, containing a fermentable carbohydrate, and a control diet on mice and looked at the effect on food intake of those with ...

Does where you live affect what you weigh?

November 21, 2016

Adult obesity rates in the United States have reached epidemic proportions, with one in four people considered obese. Yet, obesity rates vary considerably across states and counties.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.