Man is clutching his chest, acute pain possible heart attack, black and white image, pain area of red color

A study has found evidence that children born to a family with a history of heart disease and/or type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk of developing both of those conditions later in their lives.

It was found that children born into these situations had higher cholesterol levels than children who were born to a family with no family history of the conditions.

There is an increased risk of heart disease in people who have a low amount of so-called “good” cholesterol (HDL), compared to overall amount of cholesterol. An increased risk factor of cardiovascular problems is also associated with type 2 diabetes.

Currently, not much is known about the role that family history has in regards to biomarkers for these conditions. The new study, conducted by researchers in The Netherlands, looked into whether there were measureable biomarkers in children who had these histories.

A population-based cohort of 1,374 children participated in the study, who received a clinical assessment at the age of 12. Their families were all able to provide reports on their family history of disease.

These reports looked into the prevalence of stroke, diabetes, or myocardial infarction (heart attack) over the two generations preceding the child in question.

A range of biomarkers were then measured on the children. These included BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure, HbA1c, and cholesterol. The results were compared in terms of sex, ethnicity and education levels of the parents.

It was found that just under a third of children who came from a background with a strong history of heart disease and/or type 2 diabetes had a higher ratio of their total cholesterol to HDL, representing an increased risk for heart disease in the future. Even when controlled for BMI of the parents and the child, this finding remained, unaffected.

“A strong family history of MI [myocardial infarction] or [type 2] diabetes was independently associated with unfavorable cardiometabolic markers specific to those diseases.” The authors wrote.

“Future studies may especially focus on lifestyle behaviors that are passed on from one generation to the next since these may account for (part of) the association of diabetes/[cardiovascular disease] in multiple generations with cardiometabolic risk in the offspring.”

The findings appear in the online journal Diabetologia.