Link discovered between birth defects and hypertension during early pregnancy

Research published in the British Medical Journal has revealed a link between babies born with birth defects and women who suffered from high blood pressure during the early stages of their pregnancy.

The study was conducted on a group of women who were prescribed ACE inhibitors in a bid to reduce their blood pressure.

ACE inhibitors are known to have a negative effect on unborn children if taken during the second or third trimesters, so researchers set out to discover whether or not they also had a negative impact when taken during the first trimester.

Though they concluded that the medication did not have a toxic effect during the first trimester, they did discover that the hypertension itself might increase the risk of birth defects.

According to results from the study, the risk of birth defects in babies is 1.25% higher in mothers-to-be with high blood pressure.

Professor James Walker, senior vice-president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said that in order for women to keep the risk of birth defects to a minimum, mothers-to-be should ideally take ACE inhibitors prior to conception and during the first couple of months of pregnancy.

He added that whilst hypertension itself can increase the incidence of birth defects, smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity bring with them far greater risks.

Women who are looking to conceive or those who are pregnant and are struggling to bring down their blood pressure could also look at making some simple changes to their diet and lifestyle. A healthy diet and a good exercise regime could not only help to reduce your blood pressure, but will also ensure optimum health for both mother and baby during the pregnancy.

Please visit our high blood pressure fact-sheet for further information.

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Emma Hilton

Written by Emma Hilton

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