Expectant mothers with hypertension must be aware that the condition can cause birth defects such as congenital heart disease in their children.
Researchers also found that the risk of malformation and birth defects in children looms large even if expectant women took anti-hypertension medication. The risk is present because of the underlying condition of hypertension, researchers said.
Earlier studies had indicated the risk of birth defects with some of the anti-hypertension drugs employed to regulate blood pressure in expectant mothers. With respect to this, one particular drug called angiotensin, was thought to be causing malformations and still births.
To understand the link, researchers conducted a study of more than 465,700 mothers and their babies born in California between 1995 and 2008. They also took into account factors such as weight, age and ethnicity.
Women who used ACE inhibitors or other anti-hypertension drugs during their first trimester carried a 20% elevated risk of having a baby with birth defects. The risks were as much for women suffering hypertension, and did not take any medication.
Women who took ACE inhibitors during their first trimester carried a 54% chance of having a baby with congenital heart defects as compared to women with normal blood pressure and not on medication.
But the risks were pretty much the same for pregnant women who took other anti-hypertensive drugs or who did not take any medication despite having high blood pressure.
Researchers said that the presence of hypertension itself during pregnancy was connected to an elevated risk of birth defects in babies.