According to a new study, there has been a massive spike in high blood pressure (hypertension) among pregnant women in the United States.
High blood pressure during pregnancy could lead to serious complications for both mothers and babies.
According to WebMD, preeclampsia is a serious condition that pregnant women develop. The condition is characterized by high blood pressure in pregnant women who have not had a history of hypertension. Women with preeclampsia may have proteinuria (protein in urine) and edema or swelling in the hands, feet, and legs.
Study author Dr. Cande Ananth has found that there has been a surge in high blood pressure cases among pregnant women. She found that there has been a 13-fold increase in cases over the past four decades.
According to Harvard Medical School, “Stage 1 high blood pressure (a diagnosis of hypertension) is now between 130 and 139 systolic or between 80 and 89 diastolic (the bottom number). Stage 2 high blood pressure is now over 140 systolic or 90 diastolic.”
Researchers found that African-American women were more likely to develop hypertension during pregnancy than white women were.
Uncontrolled hypertension could lead to complications such as kidney disease, stroke, and infant death.
Dr. Amy Stoddard from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) said the increase in high blood pressure during pregnancy could be due to age.
“One of the main things we can attribute that to is older maternal age in pregnancy. Women are waiting longer to have their first baby,” said Dr. Stoddard.
Pregnant women who have high blood pressure need extra pre-natal care. Dr. Stoddard added, “More ultrasounds to check to make sure that the baby is growing appropriately and then additional monitoring of the pregnancy as you get into the third trimester.”