Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 10 : Here's another reason for would-be-mommies to eat plenty of leafy green vegetables during pregnancy as it can protect their newborn from high blood pressure, suggests a new research.
The findings, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, indicated that those born to women with high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity were 40 percent less likely to have high blood pressure if their mothers had above average levels of folic acid.
Folic acid - found in spinach, kale and broccoli - is thought to protect childrens' heart health.
The nutrient - found in spinach, kale and broccoli - is a member of the family of B vitamins and it is particularly involved in gene expression and cellular growth, reports The Mirror.
"Our study adds further evidence on the early life origins of high blood pressure," said Dr Xiaobin Wang from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
"Our findings raise the possibility of early risk assessment and intervention before conception and during pregnancy may lead to new ways to prevent high blood pressure and its consequences across lifespan and generations," Dr Wang added.
In young adults, higher folic acid consumption has been associated with a lower incidence of hypertension later in life.
Citrus juices as well as dark green vegetables are a good source.
The team first analysed data of 1,290 children from families in Boston, which included low-income racial and ethnic minorities at high risk for high blood pressure.
Almost seven in ten of the mother-child pairs - 67.8 percent were black and a fifth 19.2 percent Hispanic.
They were recruited from birth and followed prospectively for nine years at the Boston Medical Centre.
About 38.2 percent mothers had had one or more risk factor for heart disease or diabetes, 14.6 percent had hypertension, 11.1 percent had diabetes and 25.1 percent had pre-pregnancy obesity.
About 28.7 percent children had elevated blood pressure between three and nine years. They were more likely to have mothers with pre-pregnancy obesity, hypertensive disorders, and diabetes.
"The study findings suggest higher levels of maternal folic acid may help counteract the adverse associations of maternal cardiometabolic risk factors with child systolic blood pressure, although maternal folic acid levels alone were not associated with child systolic blood pressure," Dr Wang noted.