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High BP in early pregnancy ups risk of birth defects in offspring

October 19, 2011 - Washington

A new study has found that women with high Blood Pressure (hypertension) in early stages of Pregnancy are more likely to have babies with birth defects, irrespective of commonly prescribed medicines for their condition.

The finding suggested that it is the underlying hypertension, rather than the use of antihypertensive drugs in early Pregnancy that increases the risk of birth defects.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are a type of antihypertensive medication commonly prescribed to tackle hypertension.

It is already known that they have a toxic effect on Foetuses in the second or third trimesters, but their effects on a foetus during the mother's first trimester is still unclear.

So researchers led by Dr De-Kun Li of the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute in California, set out to see if there was an association between using ACE inhibitors during a woman's first trimester and birth defects.

They studied data on 465,754 mother-infant pairs from the Kaiser Permanente Northern Californian region between 1995 and 2008.

Analysis showed that women who used ACE inhibitors in their first trimester were more likely to have a baby with some form of birth defect compared with women who did not have hypertension or who had not used any form of antihypertensive medication.

However, a similar elevated risk was found among women who used other antihypertensive drugs and those with hypertension who did not take any antihypertensive medication.

"Our finding suggests that it is likely the underlying hypertension rather than use of antihypertensive drugs in the first trimester that increases the risk of birth defects in offspring," the researchers concluded.

The research has been just published on


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