Preconception lifestyle intervention in women with obesity and echocardiographic indices of cardiovascular health in their children

Tamara den Harink*, Nico A. Blom, Reinoud J. B. J. Gemke, Henk Groen, Annemieke Hoek, Ben W. J. Mol, Rebecca C. Painter, Irene M. Kuipers, Tessa J. Roseboom, Arend W. van Deutekom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Improving maternal lifestyle before conception may prevent the adverse effects of maternal obesity on their children’s future cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. In the current study, we examined whether a preconception lifestyle intervention in women with obesity could alter echocardiographic indices of cardiovascular health in their children. Methods: Six years after a randomized controlled trial comparing the effects of a 6-month preconception lifestyle intervention in women with obesity and infertility prior to fertility care to prompt fertility care, 315 of the 341 children conceived within 24 months after randomization were eligible for this study. The intervention was aimed at weight loss (≥5% or until BMI < 29 kg/m 2). Children underwent echocardiographic assessment of cardiac structure and function, conducted by a single pediatric cardiologist, blinded to group allocation. Results were adjusted for multiple variables including body surface area, age, and sex in linear regression analyses. Results: Sixty children (32 girls, 53%) were included, mean age 6.5 years (SD 1.09). Twenty-four children (40%) were born to mothers in the intervention group. Children of mothers from the intervention group had a lower end-diastolic interventricular septum thickness (−0.88 Z-score, 95%CI −1.18 to −0.58), a lower left ventricle mass index (−8.56 g/m 2, 95%CI −13.09 to −4.03), and higher peak systolic and early diastolic annular velocity of the left ventricle (1.43 cm/s 95%CI 0.65 to 2.20 and 2.39 cm/s 95%CI 0.68 to 4.11, respectively) compared to children of mothers from the control group. Conclusions: Children of women with obesity, who underwent a preconception lifestyle intervention, had improved cardiac structure and function; a thinner interventricular septum, lower left ventricle mass, and improved systolic and diastolic tissue Doppler velocities. Despite its high attrition rates, our study provides the first experimental human evidence suggesting that preconception lifestyle interventions may present a method of reducing CVD risk in the next generation. Clinical trial registration: LIFEstyle study: Netherlands Trial Register: NTR1530 ( This follow-up study was approved by the medical ethics committee of the University Medical Centre Groningen (METC code: 2008/284).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1262-1270
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number7
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

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