Mechanisms linking exposure to preeclampsia in utero and the risk for cardiovascular disease

Prabha H. Andraweera, Kathryn L. Gatford, Alison S. Care, Tina Bianco-Miotto, Zohra S. Lassi, Gus A. Dekker, Margaret Arstall, Claire T. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Preeclampsia (PE) is now recognised as a cardiovascular risk factor for women. Emerging evidence suggests that children exposed to PE inA utero may also be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in later life. Individuals exposed to PE inA utero have higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure and higher body mass index (BMI) compared to those not exposed to PE inA utero. The aim of this review is to discuss the potential mechanisms driving the relationship between PE and offspring CVD. Exposure to an adverse intrauterine environment as a consequence of the pathophysiological changes that occur during a pregnancy complicated by PE is proposed as one mechanism that programs the fetus for future CVD risk. Consistent with this hypothesis, animal models of PE where progeny have been studied demonstrate causality for programming of offspring cardiovascular health by the preeclamptic environment. Shared alleles between mother and offspring, and shared lifestyle factors between mother and offspring provide alternate pathways explaining associations between PE and offspring CVD risk. In addition, adverse lifestyle habits can also act as second hits for those programmed for increased CVD risk. PE and CVD are both multifactorial diseases and, hence, identifying the relative contribution of PE to offspring risk for CVD is a very complex task. However, considering the emerging strong association between PE and CVD, those exposed to PE inA utero may benefit from targeted primary CVD preventive strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-242
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
Issue number3
Early online date19 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • cardiovascular disease
  • offspring
  • Preeclampsia
  • progeny


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