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Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy may harm babies’ brain development

20 Oct 2020

Exposure to maternal hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) appears to hinder neurodevelopment in infants, a study reports.

The study included 4,031 mother–infant pairs (mean maternal age, 26.8 years; mean gestation age of infants, 38.8 weeks; 55.7 percent boys). A total of 362 (9.0 percent) of the mothers had HDP, of which 88 had chronic hypertension, 233 had gestational hypertension, and 41 had pre-eclampsia. More than half of the mothers (54.2 percent) were receiving folic acid supplementation before pregnancy, and 1.8 percent had passive smoking exposure during pregnancy.

Of the infants, 75.5 percent were delivered by C-section. The mean birth weight was 3,300.4 g. At 6 months of age, 500 (12.4 percent) infants showed neurodevelopmental delay according to the Gesell Developmental Schedules.

Maternal chronic hypertension was significantly associated with low development quotient on fine motor (β, −3.32), adaptability (β, −2.87), language (β, −1.23), and social behaviour (β, −2.53). Meanwhile, gestational hypertension had a significant association with low development quotient on social behaviour (β, −1.42).

On logistic regression analysis, maternal chronic hypertension contributed to a higher likelihood of neurodevelopmental delay on fine motor (odds ratio [OR], 1.85, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.19−2.89), adaptability (OR, 2.32, 95 percent CI, 1.42−3.78), language (OR, 2.86, 95 percent CI, 1.74−4.70), and social behaviour (OR, 2.13, 95 percent CI, 1.73−2.59).

The present data highlight the need for greater paediatric surveillance of infants whose mothers had HDP in order to carry out early interventions that may help improve neurodevelopmental outcome.

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