Wednesday 4 July 2018

Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) and offspring autism and/or ADHD meta-analysed

"Pooled estimates from this systematic review and meta-analysis of 61 studies suggest that exposure to hypertensive disorders of pregnancy is associated with a small yet statistically significant increase in the odds of autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in offspring compared with no exposure."

So concluded the review and meta-analysis published by Gillian Maher and colleagues [1] that collected and analysed the current peer-reviewed research literature (up to June 2017) looking at hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) and offspring developmental outcomes. Continuing an important research theme (see here), authors observed something around "a 35% increased odds of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] compared with nonexposure" and that children were "30% more likely to have ADHD compared with unexposed offspring."

HDP according to Maher et al, covers quite a bit of diagnostic ground: "chronic hypertension (essential/secondary), white-coat hypertension, masked hypertension, transient gestational hypertension, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia (de novo or superimposed on chronic hypertension)." The primary characteristic is "high blood pressure that either precedes pregnancy, is diagnosed within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, or does not resolve by the 12-week postpartum checkup" [2].

There's little more to say about this area of research aside from the idea that findings "highlight the need for greater pediatric surveillance of infants exposed to HDP to allow early intervention that may improve neurodevelopmental outcome" and that more work on possible mechanism(s) need to be undertaken. On that last point the authors opine that "placental dysfunction, associated with HDP, may result in reduced placental perfusion and oxidative stress" or that: "Maternal inflammation may also play a key role." Both worthy areas for future research. The implication also, is that yet again, there may be some form of 'foetal programming' going on with regards to offspring autism that *could* be sensitive to intervention at some point...


[1] Maher GM. et al. Association of Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy With Risk of Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Offspring: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018 Jun 6.

[2] Mammaro A. et al. Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy. Journal of Prenatal Medicine. 2009;3(1):1-5.


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