Hypertension Disorders in Pregnancy Associated With Increase in ASD and ADHD in Offspring

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Blood Pressure” by Bernard Goldbach is licensed under CC BY 2.0Ali Khashan, PhD
Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology
School of Public Health & INFANT Centre
University College Cork
Cork, Ireland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There is some evidence to suggest an increased likelihood of neurodevelopmental disorders in relation to hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, however consensus is lacking. Considering hypertensive disorders in pregnancy are among the most common prenatal complication, we decided to synthesise the published literature on this topic by conducting a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis.

Our main findings suggest that hypertensive disorders in pregnancy are associated with about 30% increase in the likelihood of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and ADHD in the offspring, compared to offspring not exposed to hypertensive disorders in pregnancy.

 MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: While results suggest that hypertensive disorders in pregnancy may increase the chances of ASD and ADHD in offspring, it should be noted that even with this apparent increase, the absolute risk remains small.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: The systematic review identified some key limitations of the literature which can now be addressed with more robust research. For example, sample size calculations to achieve statistical power and the use of validated measures to obtain exposure and outcome status. Finally, research that identifies and controls for a comprehensive set of confounders to assess whether this association is causal or whether it is due to residual or unmeasured confounding.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: Our study findings will inform future research on this topic, and if the associations we observed are confirmed in more robust studies, it may help identify children who are likely to develop neurodevelopmental disorders. This may allow for early intervention which may help to improve neurodevelopmental outcome. However, it should be emphasised that the absolute risk of ASD and ADHD is small even among children of women who had hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.

The authors have no conflicts of interest, including financial interest.


Maher GM, O’Keeffe GW, Kearney PM, et al. Association of Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy With Risk of Neurodevelopmental Disorders in OffspringA Systematic Review and Meta-analysisJAMA Psychiatry. Published online June 06, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.0854

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Last Updated on June 8, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD