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High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy could Lower Baby's IQ: Study

Update Date: Oct 04, 2012 09:37 AM EDT
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Think you have low IQ? Blame it on the time you were in your mother's womb, as a new study suggests that people whose mothers had blood pressure during pregnancy could have a lifelong effect of their intelligence.

A research conducted on pensioners revealed that those whose mothers had high blood pressure during pregnancy scored an average of 4.36 points lower on IQ tests than those who did not, Mail Online reports.

The participants of the study were part of an ongoing study which required them to undergo tests throughout their lives, starting age 20 for the Finnish army. At that age, those whose mothers had a high blood pressure displayed lower scores indicating a steeper decline, the report said.

Even at age 69, the results were the same, reports journal Neurology.

"High blood pressure and related conditions such as pre-eclampsia complicate about 10 per cent of all pregnancies and can affect a baby's environment in the womb. Our study suggests that even declines in thinking abilities in old age could have originated during the prenatal period when the majority of the development of brain structure and function occurs," Dr Katri Rdikvnen, of the University of Helsinki, said.

It seems the differences in the IQ of the scores of the 398 men between those born to mothers with high blood pressure and others were most evident in the math test. The results remained the same, even after scientists considered factors like premature births and father's occupation.

"We found that men who were born after pregnancies complicated by a hypertensive disorder, compared with men born after normotensive pregnancies, scored lower on tests measuring arithmetic reasoning and total cognitive ability in old age," Dr Rdikvnen was quoted as saying by Mail Online.

"Maternal hypertensive disorders in pregnancy predict lower cognitive ability and greater cognitive decline up to old age. A propensity to lower cognitive ability and decline up to old age may have prenatal origins," the team concluded.

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