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Maternal Hypertensive Disorders may cause Mental Health Disorders in Children

A Finnish study found associations between hypertensive pregnancy disorders and childhood mental disorders.

According to a research published in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal hypertensive pregnancy disorders, especially pre-eclampsia may lead to adverse mental health conditions in children.

From the research, 4,743 mother-child pairs were studied to find associations between hypertensive pregnancy disorders and childhood mental disorders. Hypertensive pregnancy disorders included chronic hypertension, gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia.

Pre-eclampsia is a common pregnancy complication often characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Maternal pre-eclampsia and its severity were associated with an increase in risk of any childhood mental disorders, impeding psychological development, and development behavioural and emotional disorders.

The study found that mothers who had pre-eclampsia had 66 percent higher risk of children with mental disorders and a two-fold higher risk of childhood mental issues among children whose mothers had sever pre-eclampsia.

“While previous studies have shown significant effects of preeclampsia on ADHD, autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia in the offspring, a novel aspect of our findings was that the predisposing effects of maternal preeclampsia extended to any childhood mental disorder in the offspring,” said Marius Lahti-Pulkkinen, one of the senior researchers of the study, Ph.D. a docent at the University of Helsinki in Helsinki, Finland.

Researchers noted that the combination of maternal hypertensive disorders, obesity and diabetic disorders during pregnancy would increase the cumulative incidence of childhood mental disorders from 6.6 percent to 22.2 percent.

“The findings emphasize the need for preventive interventions and treatments for maternal hypertensive disorders, since such interventions have the potential to benefit both the well-being of the expectant mother and her offspring,” he said.

Hypertensive pregnancy disorders are key risk factors for maternal mortality, stillbirth, preterm birth and intrauterine growth restriction, the study also predicts cardiovascular morbidity in the mother and child.

Dr Marius also added that the results of the study would provide a better understanding of the causes of mental health disorders in children. The information will also be vital in formulating targeted preventive interventions to support families at risk as well as assist clinicians in understanding issues of childhood mental health disorders. [APBN]