High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy Linked to Cognitive Issues Later in Life

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine has linked high blood pressure during pregnancy with cognitive issues later in life.[0] The findings, published in the journal Neurology, suggest that exposure to hypertension, preeclampsia, or gestational diabetes could slow down a baby's biological development and lead to developmental delays.[1]

The study involved 2,239 female participants with an average age of 73.[0] The medical records of previous pregnancies were examined by researchers.[0] For women who had preeclampsia, the results were more evident than those whose blood pressure stayed normal during pregnancy.

The samples were employed by the researchers to gauge each baby's epigenetic age. The researchers compared the epigenetic age to the age of the baby at birth, measured in weeks of gestation. The average composite score of all memory and thinking tests of participants with any type of high blood pressure disorder, after taking age and education into consideration, was 0.3 points lower than that of those without high blood pressure during pregnancy, where the decline was 0.05 points.[2]

Preeclampsia had a decrease of 0.04 points in comparison to the decrease of 0.05 for other high blood pressure disorders and those with no blood pressure disorders.

Corresponding author Carrie Breton, a professor of population and public health sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, said: “In aging research, if your epigenetic ‘clock’ shows an older age than your chronological age — due to exposures to various stressors — that’s viewed as bad, as putting people at increased risks for illness. We wondered how far back we could take this concept; could we take it to the womb?”[1]

The researchers plan to continue their research with a larger sample of participants to investigate whether these biological changes detected at birth are linked to health outcomes later in childhood.[1] Using the knowledge gained, medical professionals and researchers could create interventions tailored to reduce the negative impact of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes on the health of children.[1]

0. “High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy Tied to Thinking Problems Later” Fairfield Sun Times, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.fairfieldsuntimes.com/arts_and_entertainment/health/high-blood-pressure-in-pregnancy-tied-to-thinking-problems-later/article_d5fc4ef7-8793-52cd-b39a-594cd9c35fa8.html

1. “Common pregnancy complications can slow infant's development in womb: Study” Hindustan Times, 25 Feb. 2023, https://www.hindustantimes.com/lifestyle/health/common-pregnancy-complications-can-slow-infant-s-development-in-womb-study-101677310832816.html

2. “High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy Linked to Later Cognitive Problems” Neuroscience News, 2 Mar. 2023, https://neurosciencenews.com/cognition-blood-pressure-pregnancy-22693

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