Smaller baby growth may be associated with heart risk in later life

24 January 2014        

Baby scan

How quickly a baby grows during its first few months could be associated to the risk of cardiovascular problems in later life, say researchers.

Unborn babies who were smaller after three months were more likely, at the age of six, to higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and body mass index – all risk factor for heart disease. 

Our Senior Cardiac Nurse Amy Thompson, said: “The first few months of pregnancy are a critical stage in a baby’s development, and this study suggests that foetal growth within this time may influence their heart health later in life. 

“However, as the researchers acknowledge themselves further studies are needed to understand why this pattern exists and what it might mean for preventing heart disease.

The first few months of pregnancy are a critical stage in a baby’s development


“If you are pregnant, or planning a family, you should be thinking about your baby’s heart health as well as your own. If you smoke, speak to your GP or midwife about quitting, and keep a check on your blood pressure. Your midwife will also advise you on other ways you can make healthier choices during pregnancy.” 

The BHF is currently funding Professor Mark Hanson to investigate how our development in the womb influences our risk of diseases in later life, including heart and circulatory disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Find out more about his important work or make a donation to help us continue groundbreaking work like this in the future.