October 03, 2012

Early recognition of high blood pressure vital during pregnancy

Mum carrying boyNew research, part funded by us, shows high blood pressure among expectant mothers may have an effect on their child’s IQ in later life.

The medical records of 398 women who gave birth to a son between 1934 and 1944 were examined by researchers. The thinking abilities of the grown up children, including language skills, maths reasoning and visual and spatial awareness, were then tested aged 20 and then again at an average age of 69.

Results showed the men whose mothers had high blood pressure while pregnant scored lower on thinking ability tests at age 69 compared to those men whose mothers did not have high blood pressure.

It emphasises the importance of early recognition and treatment of raised blood pressure in pregnancy

Professor Jeremy Pearson, our Associate Medical Director, said: “Previous work by our scientists led to the first recognition that children born to mothers with raised blood pressure during pregnancy have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke when they grow up. This small study suggests high blood pressure during pregnancy has another, previously unrecognised effect.

“It further emphasises the importance of early recognition and treatment of raised blood pressure in pregnancy.”

Previous pioneering work into the effects of high blood pressure during pregnancy were led by Professor David Barker and his colleagues and supported by us.

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The new research from Finland was published in Neurology, a journal of the American Academy of Neurology.