Oct 6, 2010

Maternal Hypertension Increases Hypertensive Risk in Offspring Later in Life

NEW YORK/Reuters Health-Maternal pregnancy-related hypertension is associated with hypertension in offspring later in life, researchers report in the October issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“Our study,” Dr. Karin B. Michels told Reuters Health by email, “adds to the growing body of evidence that chronic diseases may originate as early as in utero. This study provides one more reason to optimize clinical management of hypertension in pregnant women.”

Dr. Michels of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues note that there have been reports of an association between maternal preeclampsia and subsequent antihypertensive use by offspring. However researchers haven’t adjusted for potential cofounders.

To investigate in more detail, the team examined data from a perinatal study involving 1556 women. The median age of participants was 39 years at the time of outcome assessment.

In all, 98 (6.3%) of offspring were born from pregnancies complicated by hypertension. There were 264 offspring (17.0%) who later reported that hypertension was ever diagnosed by a health professional.

After adjustment for factors including sex, maternal race and maternal body mass index, the odds of being prescribed antihypertensives compared with never having hypertension diagnosed, was 1.88 times higher among offspring born from pregnancies complicated by hypertension.

In this study, outcomes were self-reported and weren”t verified by medical record. Genetic factors may also have influenced the results. However, they conclude that “future studies should investigate the possibility of a causal relation between intrauterine exposure to preeclampsia and hypertension later in life by controlling for family history of hypertension and cardiovascular disease through sibling pair analysis.”

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