According to a recent study, Gen Zers and millennials have a roughly two-fold greater chance of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy than did women from the baby boomer generation. Preeclampsia and gestational hypertension, for example, fall under this category.
However, when accounting for maternal age, researchers found that women born in and after 1981 were still at higher risk. It is generally accepted that the likelihood of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy increases with maternal age.
Although there are various causes for generational shifts, Dr. Sadiya Khan, an assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and a study co-author, hypothesised that this is largely because of the generational drop in heart health. More individuals with risk characteristics, such obesity, are becoming pregnant in more recent generations.
She highlighted how important the issues are.
Khan stated in a school news release that “high blood pressure during pregnancy is a primary cause of death for both mom and baby.” Pregnancy-related high blood pressure is linked to an increased risk of heart failure and stroke in the mother as well as an increased risk of premature birth, growth restriction, and infant mortality.
The National Vital Statistics System Natality Database was used by the researchers to extract data. The study focused on first pregnancies that took place between 1995 and 2019 and used data from more than 38 million women.
They were able to correlate mothers’ birth year, race, and ethnicity with high blood pressure-related problems during pregnancy using these data.
They discovered that American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Black women had the greatest rates.
This is the first cross-generational study to examine patterns of pregnancy-related hypertension without regard to the mother’s age or the year of delivery, according to Khan.
This is crucial, she added, “particularly when we consider the history of significant racial and ethnic disparities in this high-risk illness that impacts both the mother and the unborn child.” “By beginning life with a worse state of heart health, this creates a vicious cycle of generational health degradation.”
The findings, according to co-author Dr. Natalie Cameron, a medical teacher at Northwestern, call for a new screening strategy.
The need to broaden our screening perspectives and increase our emphasis on prevention in all age groups before and during pregnancy, particularly among younger people who have traditionally not been considered to be at high risk, is the public health and clinical message from this work, according to Cameron.
Khan concurred. She asserted that early detection and prevention can save lives and enhance the health of future generations beginning with the unborn.
JAMA Open Network published the study’s online version on August 24.
More information on high blood pressure during pregnancy can be found at the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Northwestern Medicine, August 24, 2022 news release,