High-meat, low-carbohydrate diet in pregnancy: relation to adult blood pressure in the offspring

Hypertension. 2001 Dec 1;38(6):1282-8. doi: 10.1161/hy1101.095332.


To examine the hypothesis that a high-animal protein, low-carbohydrate diet in pregnancy is associated with raised blood pressure in the adult offspring, we performed a follow-up study of 626 men and women in Motherwell, Scotland, whose mothers' food intake had been recorded during pregnancy. The mothers had taken part in a dietary intervention in which they were advised to eat 1 lb (0.45 kg) of red meat per day and to avoid carbohydrate-rich foods during pregnancy. The offspring were followed up at age 27 to 30 years, and their systolic and diastolic blood pressures were measured. Women who reported greater consumption of meat and fish in the second half of pregnancy had offspring with higher systolic blood pressure in adult life (regression coefficient, 0.19 mm Hg per portion per week; 95% confidence interval, 0.04 to 0.35; P=0.02). High maternal consumption of fish, but not meat, was associated with higher diastolic blood pressure in the offspring (regression coefficient, 1.00 mm Hg per portion per week; 95% confidence interval, 0.18 to 1.82; P=0.02). These associations were independent of maternal blood pressure, body size, and smoking habits during pregnancy. Although we cannot exclude confounding by maternal saturated fat or salt intake, the findings support those of a study in Aberdeen showing higher blood pressure in men and women whose mothers had eaten a high-animal protein, low-carbohydrate diet in late pregnancy. These associations may reflect the metabolic stress imposed on the mother by an unbalanced diet in which high intakes of essential amino acids are not accompanied by the nutrients required to utilize them.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange / physiology
  • Pregnancy / physiology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Registries


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Proteins