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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2006 Aug;26(8):1877-82. Epub 2006 May 25.

Maternal diet during pregnancy and carotid intima-media thickness in children.

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MRC Epidemiology Resource Centre, University of Southampton, UK.



Autopsy studies show that intimal lipid accumulations in arteries are often present at birth, suggesting that the prenatal environment plays a role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. In animal models, a restricted or unbalanced maternal diet during gestation can influence susceptibility to atherosclerosis, but the relation in humans between maternal diet during pregnancy and atherogenesis is unknown.


We measured carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) in 216 nine-year-old children whose mothers had participated in a study of nutrition during pregnancy. IMT was greater in boys, in children who were heavier, in those with higher systolic blood pressure, and in those who took less exercise. Increased IMT was associated with a lower maternal energy intake in early (P=0.029) or late (P=0.006) pregnancy, after adjustment for these factors. Mean IMT of children whose mothers were in the lowest quarter of the distribution of energy intake in late pregnancy was 0.027 mm (95% confidence interval, 0.004 to 0.049) greater than that of those whose mothers were in the highest quarter of the distribution.


Lower maternal energy intake during pregnancy may increase the susceptibility to atherogenesis of the child.

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