Study finds that maternal hypertension may affect their child's IQ

During pregnancy, there are a lot changes occurring in your body, which is just one of the reasons why you should stay on top of your health. One condition, in particular, that you should watch out for is hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Cognitive ability may be linked to maternal blood pressure

According to a new study published in the journal Neurology, high blood pressure during pregnancy may increase the likelihood of a child scoring below average on an IQ test as an adult. Finnish researchers looked at data from the Helsinki Birth Cohort of babies born between 1934 and 1944, and nearly 400 IQ tests of men tested at age 20 and then again in their 60s, the Los Angeles Times reported. They found that males who were born to mothers with hypertension performed worse on the examinations than those born to moms with normal blood pressure.

"Maternal hypertensive disorders in pregnancy predict lower cognitive ability and greater cognitive decline up to old age. A propensity to lower cognitive ability and decline up to old age may have prenatal origins," concluded the study's authors.

Get treated early

High blood pressure is diagnosed when an individual has a reading that is greater than 140/90 millimeters of mercury, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. If the condition developed during pregnancy and is not pre-existing, it is often referred to as gestational hypertension. If left untreated, it can lead to health complications that may affect both mom and baby. For instance, a condition called preeclampsia can occur after the 20th week of pregnancy and is directly related to increased blood pressure. Since it is a leading cause of fetal complications, it's important for healthcare providers to diagnose hypertension early and begin treatment as soon as possible. 

For women who have high blood pressure and are thinking about conceiving, it's crucial to discuss with a healthcare provider ways to reduce their levels before getting pregnant. Some easy things that you can do include limiting your salt intake, engaging in more physical activity and losing some pounds if you're overweight. A doctor can also prescribe medication to improve the condition.

Do you know any mothers who had high blood pressure during pregnancy? Did they have to alter their lifestyle to keep their levels down? Leave your answers in the comments section!