Maternal Prepregnancy Body Mass Index and Their Children’s Blood Pressure and Resting Cardiac Autonomic Balance at Age 5 to 6 Years
Adverse intrauterine conditions can program hypertension. Because one of the underlying mechanisms is thought to be cardiac autonomic balance, we investigated the association between prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure and indicators of the autonomic balance in the child at age 5 to 6 years. Also investigated was whether these associations were mediated by standardized birth weight and child BMI. Pregnant women (n=3074) participating in the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development study completed a questionnaire at gestational week 14. At age 5 to 6 years, offspring’s sympathetic drive (pre-ejection period), parasympathetic drive (respiratory sinus arrhythmia), and heart rate were measured by electrocardiography and impedance cardiography at rest. Blood pressure was assessed simultaneously. After adjusting for possible maternal/offspring confounders, prepregnancy BMI was positively linearly associated with diastolic blood pressure (β=0.11 mm Hg; 95% confidence interval, 0.05–0.17), systolic blood pressure (β=0.14 mm Hg; 95% confidence interval, 0.07–0.21), but not with heart rate, sympathetic or parasympathetic drive. After adding birth weight and child BMI to the model, the independent effect size of prepregnancy body mass index on systolic blood pressure (β=0.07 mm Hg; 95% confidence interval, 0.00–0.14) and diastolic blood pressure (β=0.07 mm Hg; 95% confidence interval, 0.01–0.13) decreased by ≈50%. Birth weight did not mediate these relationships, but was independently and negatively associated with blood pressure. Child BMI was positively associated with blood pressure and partly mediated the association between prepregnancy BMI and blood pressure. In conclusion, higher prepregnancy BMI is associated with higher blood pressure in the child (aged 5–6 years) but does not seem to be attributable to early alterations in resting cardiac autonomic balance. Child BMI, but not birth weight, mediated the association between prepregnancy BMI and blood pressure.
- Received April 8, 2013.
- Revision received April 25, 2013.
- Accepted June 17, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.