-- Alan Mozes
THURSDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- A man's heart disease risk
after the age of 40 may be linked, at least in part, to his
mother's body size and placenta size when he was born, a new study
"Chronic disease is the product of a mother's lifetime nutrition and the early growth of her child," study lead author Dr. David Barker, a professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, said in a news release from the European Society of Cardiology. "It is not simply a consequence of poor lifestyles in later life. Rather, it is a result of variations in the normal processes of human development."
The finding is reported online June 1 in the
European Heart Journal by Barker, who is also a professor in
cardiovascular medicine at Oregon Health and Science University,
Indications of the maternal influence on the heart disease risk
of male offspring stem from an analysis involving nearly 7,000
Finnish men who were born in Helsinki between 1934 and 1944.
At that time, birth records included notations on the baby's
size, the placental surface size, and other information on the
mother's weight, height and age, and previous pregnancies. (The
placenta -- a temporary organ that lines the uterus and feeds the
baby in the womb -- is expelled at birth.)
The investigators found that male heart disease risk in late
adulthood appeared to rise among:
Regardless of which combination was in play, those men with the
greatest likelihood for developing heart disease as adults had
tended to be relatively thin at birth. This fact, the authors
suggested, was an indication that malnourishment was a factor at
the time of birth.
"We have been able to show for the first time that a combination of the mother's body size and the shape and size of the placental surface predicts later heart disease," Barker said.
Going forward, the research team intends to study abnormal
development of the heart by examining pregnant women's nutritional
habits and body characteristics alongside prenatal growth patterns
and placenta sizes at birth.
For more on heart disease risk, visit the
American Heart Association.
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