High Blood Pressure during Pregnancy Linked to Child’s Mental Decline in Old Age

By Monica Wilson on October 05, 2012

Pregnancy is a very critical stage. At this period, the embryo undergoes massive development that a slight change in its environment could potentially harm the baby. In a new study, researchers found that high blood pressure during pregnancy may have an impact on the child’s thinking abilities. And this effect could go through adulthood.

In the study published in the journal Neurology, researchers from the University of Helsinki, Finland, investigated the link between high blood pressure in pregnancy and the child’s mental development. They looked at the medical records of the mothers of 398 men who were born between 1934 and 1944. Their IQs were measured at the age of 20 and at the age of 69. The tests include language skills, math reasoning and visual and spatial relationships.

The researchers found that men whose mums had high blood pressure during pregnancy scored 4.36 points lower than those whose mums had normal blood pressure. They scored low at the age of 20 and even had a decline at the age of 69. Among the skill areas, these men scored the lowest on math reasoning.

The study also considered other factors that might affect the learning skills of the subjects, such as premature birth and the profession of their fathers (whether they worked as a labourer or an office worker). These controls did not affect the findings.

According to Katri Räikkönen, PhD, high blood pressure during pregnancy complicates about 10% of all the pregnancies, and affects the child’s environment in the womb. Their study suggests that it is possible that the mental decline in old age may have originated from the prenatal period wherein major developments in the brain function and structure take place.

 

Source of this article:

Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy and cognitive decline in the offspring up to old age

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