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In utero saccharide exposure: Revisiting the provenance of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Collaborating organisations listed below.

  • Cardiovascular Collaborative Grants
Date Funded:
  • 25 May, 2023
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Dr. Yen Chin Koay
  • Professor Mathias Francois
  • Associate Professor Kim-Bell Anderson
  • Dr. XiaoSuo Wang
  • Professor Stephen Simpson
  • Associate Professor Ding (Melody) Ding
  • Professor Fatima Crispi
  • Professor Lea Delbridge
  • Professor Adrienne Gordon

Project Summary

Eating excessive added sugar during pregnancy mediates adverse effects of foetal cardiac development which persists into adulthood. This research looks at the effect of maternal diet on offspring long-term health.

What is the issue for NSW?

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy characterized by an abnormal thickening of the heart muscle, is a clinically variable disease and the leading cause of sudden cardiac death. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy occurs in 1-in-200 adults and leads to poorer heart function with long-term complications and also poorer quality of life.

Numerous studies suggest the onset of hypertrophy is detectable in babies while they are still in the womb, maybe as early as 22 weeks into the pregnancy. Our work suggests the development of cardiac hypertrophy in utero is affected by the mother eating excessive sugar while pregnant, and that babies born to such mothers have enlarged hearts.

Understanding how eating sugar while pregnant affects the baby’s heart will lead to better nutritional guidelines and reduce the incidence of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in future generations.

What does the research aim to do and how?

This research looks at the effect of maternal diet on offspring long-term health. We aim to better understand how eating excessive sugar while pregnant affects the baby’s heart size, and the role of sugars in the regulation of fetal heart structure and function.

To do this we will take advantage of two unique cohorts established in NSW and in Barcelona. We will compare the heart size of babies in these two groups using fetal cardiac ultrasound at 36-38 weeks into pregnancy.

At the same time, we will determine if changing to a healthy diet that prevents low birth weight can also save babies from abnormal cardiac development.

This research will:

  • improving understanding of how eating excessive sugar during pregnancy affects the heart health of the baby.
  • improve understanding of how a healthy diet can protect the heart health of the baby.
  • help to develop nutritional guidelines for pregnant women.

Collaborating Organisations:

The University of Sydney

Heart Research Institute

The Centenary Institute

Royal Prince Alfred Hospital

The University of Melbourne

BCNatal Fetal Medicine Research Center