High blood pressure during pregnancy can cause lifelong effect on child's IQ OAPs born to high blood pressure mothers scored lower on cognitive testsResearcher: 'Decline in thinking abilities in old age could have originated in the womb'
20:38 GMT, 3 October 2012
Being born to a mother with high blood pressure may leave you with a lower IQ, a new study warns (posed by model)
Being born to a mother who had high blood pressure during pregnancy can have a lifelong effect on your intelligence, new research suggests.
A study of pensioners found those whose mothers had high blood pressure scored an average of 4.36 points lower on IQ tests than those who did not.
The men were part on an ongoing study which has tested them throughout their lives, firstly at age 20 when they were performing national service for the Finnish army.
At that age, those whose mothers had higher blood pressure also had lower scores, indicating a steeper decline.
And at age 69 the same held true – with a steeper decline in cognitive scores for the high blood pressure group, reports journal Neurology.
Dr Katri Rdikvnen, of the University of Helsinki, said: 'High blood pressure and related conditions such as pre-eclampsia complicate about 10 per cent of all pregnancies and can affect a baby’s environment in the womb.
'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.'
The difference in the scores of the 398 men between those whose mothers had high blood pressure and those who did not was most pronounced in the maths test.
Premature birth did not effect the findings, and neither did the occupation of the father.
The study suggests the decline in mental abilities in old age may have originated in the womb (picture posed by model)
Dr Rdikvnen said: 'We found that men who were born after pregnancies complicated by a hypertensive disorder, compared with men born after normotensive pregnancies, scored lower on tests measuring arithmetic reasoning and total cognitive ability in old age.'
The team conclude: 'Maternal hypertensive disorders in pregnancy predict lower cognitive ability and greater cognitive decline up to old age.
'A propensity to lower cognitive ability and decline up to old age may have prenatal origins.'