Adults whose mothers suffered from preeclampsia or gestational hypertension while pregnant appear to be at increased risk of suffering a stroke.
In a study, researchers found that people whose mothers had preeclampsia have nearly double the risk of stroke. A similar, albeit smaller, effect was seen with pregnancies complicated by gestational hypertension.
Prior research has shown that offspring of pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia have elevated blood pressures during childhood, but the long-term consequences, if any, were unclear.
The findings are based on an analysis of data for 6410 subjects included in the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study who were born between 1934 and 1944. Overall, 120 pregnancies were affected by non-severe preeclampsia, 164 by severe preeclampsia, and 1592 by gestational hypertension.
The risk for stroke was 1.9 times higher among individuals whose mothers had preeclampsia and 1.4 times higher among individuals whose mothers had gestational hypertension, compared with individuals whose mothers did not have either of these problems.
Neither pregnancy complication was associated with heart disease in adulthood.
Preeclampsia, especially severe preeclampsia, was also linked to a reduced head circumference, while gestational hypertension was tied to an increased head circumference, relative to body length.
Researchers believe that the mechanisms responsible for the link between these pregnancy complications and stroke may include local disorders of the blood vessels of the brain as a consequence of either reduced brain growth or impaired brain growth. ( Xagena )
Source: Stroke, 2009