Hypertensive Disorders During Pregnancy Increase Offspring’s Risk of Death Even into Adulthood: Study

The offspring of mothers with hypertensive disorders faced increased risk of deaths from heart diseases, digestive system disease, and endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases.

Children born to mothers who suffer from hypertensive disorders during pregnancy face an increased risk of death, even into adulthood, according to the findings of a new study.

Chinese and Danish researchers warn that the mortality risk among young adulthood appears to be much higher for those born to mothers who had various high blood pressure conditions, such as preeclampsia, eclampsia and hypertension. The findings were published October 19 in The BMJ.

Hypertensive Disorder Risks

Hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication marked by high blood pressure, headaches, vomiting and blurred vision, which can cause premature birth and health problems for the unborn child, including seizures, impaired brain activity and ultimately death in some cases.

Prior research has found that hypertensive disorders may be responsible for one-third of pregnancy deaths in the U.S. The condition has also been linked to other health risks, such as obesity, immunological disease, neurodevelopment and psychiatric issues among the children of mothers with hypertension.

In this latest study, researchers conducted a nationwide population-based cohort study involving Danish national health registries. This included 2.4 million individuals living in Denmark from 1978 to 2018. The patients and their children were followed for 41 years.

Researchers wanted to determine if they could prove a link between mothers with HDP and increased risk of death from any causes as well as 13 other conditions, including birth defects, cancer, disease of the nervous system and musculoskeletal system, mental and behavior disorders, cardiovascular disease and others.

They focused on pregnant mothers who had hypertensive disorders which include conditions which can be fatal, such as preeclampsia, eclampsia, and hypertension.

According to the findings, more than 102,000 mothers had hypertensive disorder of pregnancy (HDP), with 67,600 of those being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, 679 with eclampsia. and 33,700 with hypertension.

Overall, 781 children were born to mothers with pre-eclampsia, 17 were born to mothers with eclampsia, 223 were born to mothers with hypertension, and 19,119 were born to mothers without HDP.

Increased Risk of Death Among Children

According to the findings, children born to mothers with HDP were six times more likely to face an early death compared to those born to mothers without HDP. The researchers found offspring exposed to pre-eclampsia in the womb had a 29% increased risk of death; those born to mothers with eclampsia had a 188% increased risk of death, and those exposed to hypertension in the womb had a 12% increased risk of death from all causes.

Researchers indicated death from cardiovascular diseases, digestive system disease, and endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases were particularly higher among children born to mothers with hypertensive disorders.

The risk of endocrine, nutritional, metabolic or cardiovascular disease-related deaths was 50% higher among those born to mothers with HDP. The risk of death from digestive diseases or deaths during perinatal period, during pregnancy or up to one year after birth, were more than double among HDP exposed children.

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The increased risk of death was more pronounced among children of mothers with early onset and severe pre-eclampsia, or with both HDP and diabetes history, or HDP and low education levels.

Researchers found no increased risk of death from cancer among HDP exposed children. However, the risk of death from all-causes or from specific causes carried forward for the children beyond childhood and into adulthood.

“The underlying physiological mechanisms between maternal HDP and mortality in offspring remain unclear, although some potential pathways have been proposed,” the researchers noted. “The risk of mortality in offspring might also vary by maternal education, a proxy of socioeconomic status, along with maternal HDP.”

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