High blood pressure during pregnancy is becoming more and more common among Generation Z women

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By Steven Reinberg HealthDay reporter
Health Day Reporter

MONDAY, August 29, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Gen Zers and Millennials are about twice as likely to develop hypertension during pregnancy as baby boomer women, according to a new study. These include conditions such as preeclampsia and gestational high blood pressure.

It’s widely believed that the likelihood of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy increases with maternal age, but adjusting for age, the researchers discovered that women born in 1981 and later were still at higher risk.

“Although there are many reasons for the observed generational alternations, we believe that in large part this is due to the observed generational decline in heart health,” said study co-author Dr. Sadiya Khan, an assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “We’re seeing more and more people in younger generations entering pregnancy with risk factors like obesity.”

She emphasized that a lot is at stake.

“High blood pressure during pregnancy is a leading cause of death for both mothers and babies,” Khan said in a school press release. “High blood pressure during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of heart failure and stroke in the mother and an increased risk of the baby being born prematurely, stunted, or dying.”

The researchers pulled numbers from the National Vital Statistics System Natality Database. The study, which included data from more than 38 million women, focused on first pregnancies that occurred between 1995 and 2019.

These numbers allowed them to correlate blood pressure-related abnormalities during pregnancy with the year of birth and the mother’s race or ethnicity.

They found that the highest rates were in Native American, Alaskan, and Black women.

“This is the first cross-generational study to go beyond maternal age or calendar year of delivery to understand patterns of hypertension in pregnancy,” Khan said.

“This is particularly important when we consider the legacy of significant racial and ethnic differences in this high-risk disease, which affects not only the mother but also the baby,” she said. “This sets in motion a vicious cycle of generational health degradation by starting life with poorer heart health.”

co-author dr. Natalie Cameron, Northwestern’s medical instructor, said the findings call for a new approach to screening.

“The public health and clinical message of this work is the need to broaden our perspective on screening and broaden our focus on prevention in all age groups before and during pregnancy, especially younger people who are not traditionally considered to be at high risk.” ‘ Cameron said in the publication.

Khan agreed. “Prevention and early detection can save lives and improve the health of future generations from birth,” she said.

The study was published online on August 24 Open JAMA network .

More information

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on high blood pressure during pregnancy.

SOURCE: Northwestern Medicine, press release, August 24, 2022

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High blood pressure during pregnancy is becoming more and more common among Generation Z women
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