Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease

Review

Maternal diet-induced obesity and offspring cardiovascular health

H. L. Blackmorea1 and S. E. Ozannea1 c1

a1 Level 4 Metabolic Research Laboratories, Institute of Metabolic Sciences, University of Cambridge, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, UK

Abstract

It is widely recognized that environmental insults during adulthood including smoking, lack of exercise and a poor diet increases an individual's risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, research initiated over the last two decades has highlighted that our risk of CVD can be programmed following adverse exposures during early development. Such adverse exposures may include, undernutrition, placental insufficiency, hypoxia, overnutrition and obesity. This review aims to address the current Western obesity crisis by addressing the long-term impact of maternal overnutrition and obesity on the offspring's future risk of CVD. Although current human studies have observed the presence of adverse CVD markers in children born to obese mothers, animal models have proved vital in understanding the underlying mechanisms involved. Mechanisms suggested to be involved in the programming of CVD in the offspring include increased oxidative stress, inflammation, lipotoxicity and epigenetics. CVD remains the greatest cause of death worldwide, therefore further understanding of the mechanisms mediating these effects is important in the development of intervention strategies.

(Received October 29 2012)

(Revised December 04 2012)

(Accepted December 05 2012)

(Online publication January 11 2013)

Key words

  • cardiovascular disease;
  • developmental programming;
  • maternal obesity;
  • mechanisms;
  • animal models

Correspondence

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr S. E. Ozanne, Level 4 Metabolic Research Laboratories, Institute of Metabolic Sciences, University of Cambridge, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK (Email seo10@cam.ac.uk)

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