Growth during the first trimester is proving to be a factor linked to risk for heart problems, a new study indicates. Children who were small during early stages of fetal development have the possibility of increased risk for heart problems.
The findings suggest that the first three months of pregnancy, first trimester, may be a crucial period for heart health later in life, the Dutch researchers stated. They noted that the first trimester includes a period of rapid development when the heart and other major organs begin per Web MD.
The researchers assessed nearly 1,200 children at age 6 for cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin levels, and amount and distribution of body fat.
Children who were smaller during the first trimester of pregnancy compared to those who were largest had significantly more total fat and fat around the abdomen, higher blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels, the study’s findings showed.
Being smaller during the first trimester was also associated with an increased risk of having a number of these cardiovascular risk factors during childhood per the study published online Thursday on bmj.com.
Further studies will need to be conducted to identify why smaller size during the first trimester seems associated with increased risk of heart problems in childhood, as well as the long-term possible consequences, Vincent Jaddoe concluded, a professor of pediatric epidemiology at the Eramus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, and colleagues.
This study contributes to the growing evidence that slow fetal growth is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other health related problems later in life, Catherine Aiken and Gordon Smith, from the University of Cambridge in England, wrote in an accompanying study.
“We need a deeper understanding of the strength, nature and mechanisms of the reported associations,” the researchers added.