High Gestational Blood Pressure Can Affect the Child’s IQ

Latest research on pregnant mothers with high blood pressure has revealed that this condition could have adverse effects on the child’ IQ in the later stages of adult life.

This study was published in the October issue of the journal Neurology.

High Gestational Blood Pressure

Background of the Study

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Helsinki, Finland. Lead author Katri Räikönen who heads the study says that high blood pressure and preeclampsia are known to affect normal pregnancy and child birth. More than 10% of complications in pregnancy are due to high blood pressure. The scientists investigating these effects of high BP in pregnant women have found that among other things, it affects the thinking abilities in such babies. This affect is seen not only in the earlier stages of life but as far as old age. According to them, high BP in the mother affects the process during the prenatal period when much of the brain development happens.

The Study

To substantiate their observations, the research team obtained the data of 398 men born between 1934 and 1944. Medical records of their mother’s blood pressure during the pregnancy were also obtained.  Then these men were subjected to IQ tests at ages 20 and later again at 69. These tests measured the reasoning, language skills and the ability to process visual and spatial relationships. 

Outcomes of the Research

The tests and the medical records were correlated for the statistical analysis. The results of the analysis are as under:

  1. Men born to mothers with high BP during pregnancy scored lesser on the thinking and reasoning ability tests conducted at the age of 69, as compared to the men whose mothers had no history of high BP during pregnancy.  
  2. Similar pattern was observed among the participants when their IQ tests were conducted at the age of 20.
  3. This finding was particularly stronger for math-related reasoning skills.

The test results were found to be unaffected by the socio-economic background of these men as well as their premature birth status. This shows that high gestational blood pressure has direct effects on the IQ of the offspring and is not influenced by other factors.


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