Maternal obesity during pregnancy is associated with poorer cardiovascular health (CVH) in children. A strategy to improve CVH in children could be to address preconception maternal obesity by means of a lifestyle intervention. We determined if a preconception lifestyle intervention in women with obesity improved offspring’s CVH, assessed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
We invited children born to women who participated in a randomised controlled trial assessing the effect of a preconception lifestyle intervention in women with obesity. We assessed cardiac structure, function and geometric shape, pulse wave velocity and abdominal fat tissue by MRI.
We included 49 of 243 (20.2%) eligible children, 24 girls (49%) girls, mean age 7.1 (0.8) years. Left ventricular ejection fraction was higher in children in the intervention group as compared to children in the control group (63.0% SD 6.18 vs. 58.8% SD 5.77, p = 0.02). Shape analysis showed that intervention was associated with less regional thickening of the interventricular septum and less sphericity. There were no differences in the other outcomes of interest.
A preconception lifestyle intervention in women with obesity led to a higher ejection fraction and an altered cardiac shape in their offspring, which might suggest a better CVH.
A preconception lifestyle intervention in women with obesity results in a higher ejection fraction and an altered cardiac shape that may signify better cardiovascular health (CVH) in their children.
This is the first experimental human evidence suggesting an effect of a preconception lifestyle intervention in women with obesity on MRI-derived indicators of CVH in their children.
Improving maternal preconception health might prevent some of the detrimental consequences of maternal obesity on CVH in their children.
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The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. The 3D meshes included for analyses are available on FigShare https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.19944362.
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We would like to thank all children and parents who participated in the study. Also, this follow-up would not have been possible without the original LIFEstyle trial, so we would like to thank the whole LIFEstyle group, including all participating centres and researchers that have contributed to the original trial. We would like to thank Raschel van Luijk, Sandra van den Berg and Gert-Jan Ebbers for their scanning assistance. Tineke Willems and Jesse Medema facilitated the cardiac MRIs in the UMC Groningen and we would also like to thank them for their help. Finally, we would like to thank Robert Hemke for his help and expertise regarding the abdominal fat quantifications. A.W.v.D. is funded by a ZonMW Rubicon grant (452183001) and a European Society of Cardiology Fellowship. PL holds a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship (209450/Z/17/Z). This research was supported by the European Commission (EC H2020—g.a. 764738), a grant of the Dutch Heart Foundation (2013T085) and a Postdoc Stipend of Amsterdam Reproduction & Development. The initial LIFEstyle trial was supported by a grant from ZonMW, the Dutch Organisation for Health Research and Development (120620027).
A.H. reports that she is involved as a consultant for the design of a lifestyle App by Ferring Pharmaceutical company, The Netherlands. All other authors declare no competing interests.
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den Harink, T., Schuppen, J., Marciniak, M. et al. A preconception lifestyle intervention in women with obesity and cardiovascular health in their children. Pediatr Res (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41390-022-02443-8