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Study Finds Significant Effects of Blood Pressure During Pregnancy on Babies’ Health

Update Date: Feb 26, 2013 02:35 PM EST

Danish researchers found both beneficial and harmful effects of high blood pressure on a child's future health when present during different times of pregnancy. The research was headed by Professor Jacobus Boomsma, director of the Center for Social Evolution at the department of biology at the University of Copenhagen. Professor Boomsma collected data from the Danish National Patient Registry and monitored the health of 750,000 children born in 1977.  The study performed follow up examinations and data collection on these children after 27 years and found that the time and length in which the hypertension manifested during pregnancy affected the health of the child. 

The researchers concluded that pregnant mothers who experienced hypertension during the first trimester gave birth to children with a 10-40 percent lower risk for diagnoses later on in life when compared to the children born from mothers that did not experience hypertension at all. These mothers only presented a slight increase in blood pressure. If the hypertension continued or presented during the later trimesters, children had a 10 percent disadvantage in being diagnosed with an illness. 

The researchers also looked into child mortality rates. Although child mortality is rare in Denmark, the children of mothers with hypertension during the first trimester did not have a mortality rate. The children of mothers who developed hypertension in the later stages of pregnancy, however, had a mortality rate that was above average. Although the study did find a correlation between hypertension during pregnancy and children's health, it could not monitor other factors, such as food, environment, and upbringing, that could have affected the numbers. The study did take out mothers that had a history of high blood pressure before pregnancy. The study also did the follow up in 27 years because that is how long the registry lasted. Although it is still unclear why babies specifically react to high blood pressure during different times, this finding will help doctors in dealing with mothers with hypertension throughout the different stages of pregnancy.

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