Flu in Utero Linked to Later Heart Disease

Flu in Utero Linked to Later Heart Disease

Reported October 01, 2009

(Ivanhoe Newswire ) — Pregnant women have one more reason to be on the alert about the swine flu. Researchers found babies exposed to a similar strain of flu in utero during the 1918 pandemic were more likely to face a future of heart disease.

A new study shows 100,000 individuals who were born during the 1918 influenza pandemic and were affected by the H1N1 strain of influenza A while in the womb had higher chances of heart disease later in life.

“Our point is that during pregnancy, even mild sickness from flu could affect development with longer consequences,” senior author Caleb Finch, University of Southern California (USC) professor of gerontology and biological sciences, was quoted as saying.



Researchers found men who were born during the height of the epidemic had a 23.1 percent greater chance of having heart disease after the age of 60 than the United States population. Women in the study also showed a 17 percent increase in likelihood of developing heart disease.

“Prenatal exposure to even uncomplicated maternal influenza can have lasting consequences later in life,” Eileen Crimmins, professor of gerontology and sociology at USC, was quoted as saying. “The lingering influences from the 1918 to 1919 influenza pandemic extend the hypothesized roles of inflammation and infections in cardiovascular disease from our prior Science and PNAS articles to prenatal infection by influenza.”

SOURCE: Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, October 1, 2009