Elevated blood pressure in pregnant women is associated with lower lung function and an increased risk for current asthma and current wheezing in children age 10, with these associations being potentially trimester-specific.

The current analysis of these relationships was embedded in the Generation R Study — a population-based prospective Dutch cohort study from early fetal life onwards. Study results were published in the European Respiratory Journal.

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Investigators sought to explore the association of maternal blood pressure and hypertensive disorders during pregnancy with the risk for decreased pulmonary function, wheezing, and asthma in 10-year-old children. A total of 4894 children were evaluated. The researchers utilized multivariate analysis, taking into consideration socioeconomic and lifestyle factors.

Of the 4894 women who were eligible for analysis, 4.2% (206 of 4894) had gestational hypertension and 1.9% (91 of 4894) had preeclampsia or hemolysis elevated liver enzymes low platelets (HELLP) syndrome. Current wheezing and asthma were reported in 18.1% and 8.3% of children, respectively, at age 10.

Consistent associations were observed per 5 mm Hg higher maternal blood pressures in early pregnancy with a lower forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC; Z-score, –0.03; 95% CI, –0.05 to –0.01) and per 5 mm Hg higher blood pressures in late pregnancy, with an elevated risk for current wheezing and current asthma (odds ratio [OR], 1.07; 95% CI, 1.02-1.12 and OR, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.00-1.11, respectively).

No associations were observed between maternal hypertensive disorders during pregnancy and childhood lung function, current wheezing, or current asthma.

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The investigators concluded that although their study demonstrated that higher blood pressures in pregnant women were linked to lower FEV1/FVC, and increased odds of current wheezing and current asthma in children age 10, they did not demonstrate any associations between specific gestational hypertensive disorders in pregnant women and childhood respiratory morbidity.


Wilmink FA, den Dekker HT, de Jongste JC, et al. Maternal blood pressure and hypertensive disorders during pregnancy and childhood respiratory morbidity. The Generation R Study [published online October 11, 2018]. Eur Respir J. doi:10.1183/13993003.00378-2018