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New study to explore link between mother's diet and risk of heart disease in her child

Published: 
28 April 2009

A pioneering study into the effects of a mother's fat intake during pregnancy on her child's health when he or she grows up is being launched at the University of Southampton.

The research will investigate whether the type and amount of fat a mother eats during pregnancy influences the risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, in her child when he or she reaches adulthood.

Although the link between high fat diets and high blood pressure is well known, there has been limited research into the connection between a woman's diet and her child's risk of hypertension.

The University of Southampton is leading research into the links between poor diet in mothers and the risk of ill-health in their children.

The study, which is funded by the British Heart Foundation, is led by Dr Graham Burdge, Reader in Human Nutrition at the University's School of Medicine, together with Southampton colleagues Drs Karen Lillycrop and Christopher Torrens, Professor Philip Calder and Mark Hanson, British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiovascular Science.

The award of this prestigious grant is part of a £3.5 million boost for heart research in the UK by the British Heart Foundation. The charity's special grants are made to fund research into the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, the UK's biggest killer.

Dr Burdge says: "The type and amount of fat in our diet has changed during the past 50 years. Pregnant women consume the same diet as the rest of us, but we know very little about the effects of these changes in dietary fat on the development and future health of their children.

"We hope that the findings of this study will help to develop recommendations for pregnant women about how much fat they should eat and what types of fat they should avoid."

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