Maternal folic acid levels may cut high BP in kids

New York: Babies born to mothers with cardiometabolic risk factors were less likely to develop high blood pressure if their mothers had higher levels of folate during pregnancy, a study has showed.

The study, led by researchers from Johns Hopkins University in the US, showed that mothers with cardiometabolic risk factors — including hypertensive disorders, diabetes and pre-pregnancy obesity — were more likely to have children with higher systolic blood pressure — the top number which refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries during contraction of your heart muscle.

Children with high systolic blood pressure were also more likely to have lower birth weight, lower gestational age and higher BMI, as well as can predict higher blood pressure in adulthood.

In the study, children whose mothers had high levels of folic acid — which is involved in nucleic acid synthesis, gene expression, and cellular growth — had 40 per cent lower odds of elevated childhood systolic blood pressure.

“Our study adds further evidence on the early life origins of high blood pressure,” said Xiaobin Wang from Johns Hopkins University.

“Early risk assessment and intervention before conception and during pregnancy may lead to new ways to prevent high blood pressure and its consequences across lifespan and generations,” Wang added, in the paper published in the American Journal of Hypertension.

For the study, the team analysed 1,290 mother-child pairs, recruited at birth and followed prospectively up to age 9 years from 2003 to 2014.

Of the mothers, 38.2 per cent had one or more cardiometabolic risk factors; 14.6 per cent had hypertensive disorders, 11.1 per cent had diabetes, and 25.1 per cent had pre-pregnancy obesity.

A total of 28.7 per cent of children had elevated systolic blood pressure at age 3-9 years.