Diet and physical activity in pregnancy and offspring's cardiovascular health: A systematic review

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There is increasing evidence linking maternal diet and physical activity before and during pregnancy with offspring's cardiovascular health. Although many studies examined this association, the evidence has not been reviewed systematically. We therefore undertook a systematic review to synthesize evidence examining the association of maternal diet and physical activity before and during pregnancy with offspring's blood pressure and vascular health. We systematically searched the databases MEDLINE and EMBASE from inception to June 30, 2017. Eligibility screening, data extraction and quality assessment were performed by two independent reviewers. A total of 19 articles were included comprising three randomized controlled trials and 16 observational studies. Of the studies that examined the association of interest, 60% (three out of five studies) showed that high maternal carbohydrate intake was associated with higher offspring's blood pressure. Maternal protein intake during pregnancy was negatively associated with offspring carotid intima-media thickness in two out of two studies. No consistent findings for maternal fatty acid intake were found. There were too few studies to draw conclusions on energy intake, fibre intake, protein/carbohydrate ratio, specific foods, dietary patterns and maternal physical activity. Heterogeneity in exposure and outcome assessment hampered pooling. Also, owing to the observational nature of most studies, causality cannot be established. Harmonization of valid exposure and outcome measurements, and the development of core outcome sets are needed to enable more robust conclusions.




Van Elten, T. M., Karsten, M. D. A., Van Poppel, M. N. M., Geelen, A., Limpens, J., Roseboom, T. J., & Gemke, R. J. B. J. (2019). Diet and physical activity in pregnancy and offspring’s cardiovascular health: A systematic review. In Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (Vol. 10, pp. 286–298). Cambridge University Press.

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