Pregnant women with mild high blood pressure and their babies may benefit from treatment, according to a large study co-authored by a researcher at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
Current national guidelines only suggest treating pregnant women with severe high blood pressure, but that could change after the new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Saturday.
The guidelines are established by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Until the new study, it was feared that taking blood pressure medication during pregnancy could increase the risk of babies being born small for their gestational age.
However, researchers who studied 2,400 pregnant women across the country found no significant difference in size between babies born to mothers treated for their mild high blood pressure and those born to untreated mothers.
Additionally, women who received treatment were less likely than untreated women to develop serious conditions such as severe preeclampsia, premature birth, and fetal death. Preeclampsia involves high blood pressure and can lead to serious and even life-threatening complications for both mothers and babies.
“This could be an opportunity to reduce hypertension-related complications for both mother and baby,” said Kara Hoppe, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UW and one of the co-authors of the study. ‘study.
Hoppe added that a bad outcome is avoided with 14 pregnant women receiving treatment for their blood pressure.
The women in the study all had chronic but not severe high blood pressure. Some women have been treated for their high blood pressure with drugs such as labetalol and nifedipine; the other women received no treatment for blood pressure.
Among untreated women, 37% experienced preeclampsia and other complications; only 30% of women treated experienced complications.
Among untreated women, 16.7% gave birth early, before 35 weeks; only 12.2% of the treated group delivered before 35 weeks.
To be included in the trial, women had to have blood pressure between 160/110 and 140/90. The higher number of these readings measures the blood pressure in the arteries with each heartbeat. The bottom number measures blood pressure as the heart relaxes between beats.
The women enrolled in the trial between 20 and 23 weeks of pregnancy and were followed until two weeks after the baby was delivered.
The study was conducted at 70 academic medical centers, including UW Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin.