Your mother doesn’t only pass on genes and nutrition when you are in the womb; she could even be passing on the effects of high blood pressure. Suggesting a correlation between a mom’s high blood pressure and a baby’s IQ, a new study shows that men whose mothers had hypertension during pregnancy scored lower on cognitive tests than those whose mother’s had normal blood pressure—indicating women should pay extra close attention to this vital marker while carrying a child and even before.
Finnish scientists found 398 men who had taken the nationally-required test for the Finnish Defense Forces, at age 20 and again at age 69. They examined their scores in visuospatial reasoning, arithmetic, and verbal areas and tied these results to information about their mother’s blood pressure during pregnancy.
As reported by CNN, the men whose moms had a hypertensive disorder (like preeclampsia) during pregnancy scored lower on arithmetic and “total cognitive ability” than those who did not. The most notable result-differences were found in math—where the men averaged 4.36 points lower at age 69 and 2.88 points lower at age 20.
It’s estimated that about 10 percent of women suffer a hypertensive disorder while pregnant. For many, this means weeks of bed-rest and a high-risk pregnancy. Women who have Type 2 diabetes, chronic hypertension, a multiple-birth pregnancy, or using IVF are more at risk for such a condition. The answer, as with so many other health conditions, lies in prevention.
Lowering High Blood Pressure
You can work to prevent high blood pressure while pregnant by consuming adequate whole grains and produce. Studies have shown a reduced risk of preeclampsia in women who consume more fiber. Also, avoiding alcohol and caffeine (which you should already be doing while pregnant), can reduce your risk. Drink plenty of water and get regular exercise throughout your pregnancy to keep your blood pressure down. Finally, sleeping on your left side while pregnant can ensure better blood flow during nighttime hours.
And while prevention is the best way, a number of home remedies for high blood pressure do exist. Aloe vera, vitamin D, apple cider vinegar, yogurt, and hibiscus tea have all been shown to help lower blood pressure. Coconut water has also been shown to lower the blood pressure of 71% of study participants. In addition to utilizing all of these foods to lower blood pressure, avoiding foods with fructose can also help to maintain healthy levels.
Your child’s health and their intelligence depend on you when you are carrying them. While people used to think a woman’s diet and health was only important while the child was in utero, this and other studies prove otherwise. The health choices you make while pregnant and even before becoming pregnant can affect your child well into their adults years.