Links Between Maternal Cardiovascular Disease and the Health of Offspring

Sara L. Wiener, Diana S. Wolfe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Maternal cardiovascular disease (CVD) during pregnancy is on the rise worldwide, as both more women with congenital heart disease are reaching childbearing age, and conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity are becoming more prevalent. However, the extent to which maternal CVD influences offspring health, as a neonate and later in childhood and adolescence, remains to be fully understood. The thrifty phenotype hypothesis, by which a fetus adapts to maternal and placental changes to survive a nutrient-starved environment, may provide an answer to the mechanism of maternal CVD and its impact on the offspring. In this narrative review, we aim to provide a review of the literature pertaining to the impact of maternal cardiovascular and hypertensive disease on the health of neonates, children, and adolescents. This review demonstrates that maternal CVD leads to higher rates of complications among neonates. Ultimately, our review supports the hypothesis that maternal CVD leads to intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), which, through the thrifty phenotype hypothesis and vascular remodelling, can have health repercussions, including an impact on CVD risk, both in the immediate newborn period as well as later throughout the life of the offspring. Further research remains crucial in elucidating the mechanism of maternal CVD long-term effects on offspring, as further understanding could lead to preventive measures to optimise offspring health, including modifiable lifestyle changes. Potential treatments for this at-risk offspring group could mitigate risk, but further studies to provide evidence are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2035-2044
Number of pages10
JournalCanadian Journal of Cardiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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