Heart Disease Risk May Start Before Birth



What to Know


  • A woman's heart health ― including physical, environmental, and cognitive experiences in childhood and young adulthood ― is directly related to the health of the children born to her.

  • Unfavorable preregnancy cardiovascular health is associated with several pregnancy complications, such as preterm birth, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, or giving birth to an infant who is small for gestational age. It is also linked to higher risk for cardiovascular disease among offspring.


  • Being born preterm is associated with a 53% higher risk for heart disease by age 43, while having type 2 diabetes before becoming pregnant is associated with a 39% higher risk of cardiovascular disease among offspring by age 40.

  • Cardiovascular health is intergenerational, and the incidence of pregnancy complications and cardiovascular disease is disproportionately higher among people from diverse racial and ethnic groups.

  • Psychological health, stress, and resilience need to be considered in optimizing cardiovascular health, and interventions are needed for women from groups who have been historically excluded from public health services and face long-term stressors, such as ongoing episodes of discrimination, poverty, and violence.