New research suggests that a mother's high blood pressure during pregnancy may have an effect on her child's thinking skills all the way into old age. The study is published in the October 3, 2012, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
"High blood pressure and related conditions such as preeclampsia complicate about 10 percent of all pregnancies and can affect a baby's environment in the womb," said study author Katri Räikönen, PhD, with the University of Helsinki in Finland. "Our study suggests that even declines in thinking abilities in old age could have originated during the prenatal period when the majority of the development of brain structure and function occurs."
Researchers looked at medical records for the mother's blood pressure in pregnancy for 398 men who were born between 1934 and 1944. The men's thinking abilities were tested at age 20 and then again at an average age of 69. Tests measured language skills, math reasoning and visual and spatial relationships.
The study found that men whose mothers had high blood pressure while pregnant scored 4.36 points lower on thinking ability tests at age 69 compared to men whose mothers did not have high blood pressure. The group also scored lower at the age of 20 and had a greater decline in their scores over the decades than those whose mothers did not have problems with blood pressure. The finding was strongest for math-related reasoning.
The researchers also looked at whether premature birth affected these findings and found no change. Whether the baby's father was a manual laborer or an office worker also did not change the results.
American Academy of Neurology: http://www.aan.com/go/pressroom
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Media reports of a recent study suggesting a wide variety of common drugs can increase the chances of getting dementia are more sensationalism than science
A recent sharp drop in new Ebola infections in West Africa is prompting scientists to wonder whether the virus may be silently immunizing some people at the same time as brutally killing their neighbors.
Five Disneyland workers have been diagnosed with illness
The first batch of a vaccine against Ebola is on its way to Liberia and trials are expected to start soon.
A drug that protected mice three days after exposure to radiation could buy more time for survivors of a nuclear disaster
Unexpectedly high levels of the cancer-causing chemical were found in an analysis of the vapor from e-cigarettes, researchers say.
When mosquitoes suck blood from people with malaria, they are more likely to develop an infection if their victim is taking antibiotics
Efforts to prevent suicide, such as those championed by Nick Clegg, must take into account some apparently paradoxical differences between men and women
Scientists are studying how hemp might be used in the electronic, medical and manufacturing industries. Because the plant's been illegal for decades, it's been difficult to do research on its uses.
They leave doctors puzzled in their wake as they migrate and settle to feed on the body they're invading; a classic parasite, but this one can get into your head.