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Mom's Diet Affects Adult
Child's Blood Pressure

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Pregnant women who consume a diet rich in protein and low in carbohydrates may be putting their children at risk of high blood pressure decades later, UK researchers report.

Their study tracked 626 men and women whose mothers had been advised to eat 1 pound of red meat daily and to avoid foods rich in carbohydrates during pregnancy. This diet was recommended at the time as a way to prevent pre-eclampsia, a potentially serious condition in pregnancy marked by elevated blood pressure. The investigators followed the men and women from birth to age 27 or 30.

Women who reported the highest intakes of meat and fish during the second half of their pregnancies were more likely to have children who developed elevated systolic blood pressure, the top number of a reading, as adults. Mothers who consumed the most fish were more likely to have children who developed high diastolic pressure, the bottom number of a reading. A mother's blood pressure, smoking habits and body size did not influence the associations, the researchers report in a recent issue of Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Dr. Alistair W. Shiell of the University of Southampton in the UK and colleagues report that the higher blood pressures found among adults whose mothers consumed high amounts of protein in pregnancy could translate into elevated death rates from heart disease.

``A dietary intervention in which pregnant women increased their consumption of meat and reduced their consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods resulted in elevation of their offspring's blood pressure during adult life,'' Shiell and colleagues write.

According to the report, consuming large amounts of protein during pregnancy can stress the metabolism of both mother and fetus, who respond with elevated blood pressure.

``These associations may reflect the metabolic stress imposed on the mother by an unbalanced diet in which high intakes of essential amino acids are not accompanied by the nutrients required to utilize them,'' the authors explain.

However, the mothers' intakes of saturated fat and salt may also have contributed to the risk of high blood pressure in adult offspring, the report indicates. The high-protein diet that the women followed recommended that they snack on corned-beef between meals; eat moderate amounts of fish, eggs and cheese; consume only two servings of green vegetables daily; and drink no more than one-half pint of milk daily.

The advice led to an increase in overall protein intake--about 24% of total calories--and a reduction in energy to just over 1,400 calories daily. The expectant mothers gained less weight than average, and had babies with low birth weights. Low maternal weight gain, several studies have shown, is associated with a child's likelihood of developing heart disease and risk factors for heart disease later in life.

SOURCE: Hypertension 2001;38:1282-1288.

Reference Source 89



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