The link between hypertension and birth defects has recently been in the news due to a new study conducted on women with hypertension during pregnancy. The study found that women with hypertension who took ACE inhibitors (a common high blood pressure medication) to treat blood pressure carried the same risk of delivering a child with birth defects as women who took other medication or didn’t take any medication at all.
Why were the findings important?
A study conducted in 2006 found that women who consume ACE inhibitors to manage high blood pressure had a higher risk of having children with birth defects.
This study’s findings diverged from the previous study. Based on the new study, researchers are now suggesting that it’s high blood pressure that increases the risk of birth defects and not its treatments.
If a woman is pregnant and has high blood pressure then the risk of babies being born with neural tube defects and heart malformations is high.
What are the implications?
The findings are reassuring to women who take ACE inhibitors to combat blood pressure during their pregnancy. Because a lot of pregnancies are unplanned, many women may be on a course of ACE inhibitors when they find out the news of their pregnancy.
Another study found that ACE inhibitors may be risky during the later stages of pregnancy. Pregnant women can switch to another blood pressure medication from the second trimester onwards.
Apart from medications, women also have to adopt lifestyles measures to deal with this problem. Eating healthy, cutting down on salt, and exercising daily are some of the things that can help bring down high blood pressure.
It is also best to avoid starting a family too late in one’s reproductive cycle (over 35 years of age), as the effects of high blood pressure are more severe. You also have to get your weight in control if you are overweight. Similarly, high blood glucose can also pose a risk to pregnancy so it should be under control before having a baby.
To conclude, it is advised that a woman should be at her healthiest best before opting to have a baby. This will ensure good health for both mother and baby.