Exposure to viral infection, especially herpes viruses, may be associated with high blood pressure during pregnancy and preterm birth, Australian researchers report.
The findings are a major advance in learning more about the cause of hypertension in pregnancy, according to the authors of the study
Over 10 years, researchers from Adelaide’s Women & Children’s Hospital and the University of Adelaide detected the presence of viral nucleic acid in heel-prick blood samples from 1,326 newborns more than 400 of whom were diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
High blood pressure occurs in up to 10 percent of first pregnancies in the United States and other developed nations. It’s a common cause of death among pregnant women in developing countries.
Previously, the Adelaide group identified a link between viral infection in pregnancy, genetic mutations in genes controlling inflammatory and blood clotting processes, and the development of cerebral palsy. They also found an association between several hereditary gene mutations and changes in inflammatory proteins that may cause dysfunction and constriction of blood vessels in the placenta and brain, resulting in increased blood pressure during pregnancy.