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Mother's high blood pressure can decrease baby's IQ: study

October 4, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new study links high blood pressure during pregnancy to a child having a lower IQ.

When blood is being forced through the arteries, it can damage blood vessels and organs. When you have hypertension, blood flow gets impaired. This means less oxygen and nutrients going to the fetus. A new report suggests among many things, this can affect a baby's developing brain.

"Nothing good can come out from uncontrolled high blood pressure in pregnancy," said endocrinologist and reproductive specialist Dr. Rudy Quintero, Glendale Adventist Medical Center.

The report in the journal Neurology looked back at almost 400 adult men. Researchers reviewed IQ tests they took at age 20 and then again at 69. Results indicate that men born to mothers who had high blood pressure during pregnancy scored in the lower range at both ages.

"We can speculate that there's going to be decreased blood flow going to the baby, therefore there could be complications in terms of limiting neurological growth, brain growth," said Quintero.

Quintero says the study has its flaws, but there's no argument high blood pressure reduces blood flow key to developing organs.

"Oxygen, nutrients, everything essential for the fetal growth," said Quintero. "You could make the assumption that's there's going to be a lot of problems not only initially during the pregnancy and neonate, but maybe even long term in life as the study tends to suggest."

Quintero recommends pregnant women and all women of childbearing age do all they can to keep their blood pressure in check.

Quintero says if you're prone to high blood pressure, some medications can be taken safely during pregnancy. He also adds eating right and exercise can do far more in terms of keeping blood pressure under control.


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