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Drugs in pregnancy. Antihypertensives.

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  • 1Department of Specialized Women's Health, BC Women's Hospital and Health Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Fifty per cent of pregnancies are unplanned, and 1-6% of young women have pre-existing hypertension. However, no commonly used antihypertensive agent is known to be teratogenic. ACE inhibitors (and angiotensin-receptor antagonists) should be discontinued due to fetotoxicity. Five to 10% of pregnant women have hypertension, of which pre-existing hypertension is but one type. There is consensus that severe maternal hypertension (blood pressure >or=170/110 mmHg) should be treated to minimize the risk of acute cerebrovascular complications. Parenteral hydralazine may be associated with a higher risk of maternal hypotension, and intravenous labetalol with neonatal bradycardia. There is no consensus that mild-to-moderate hypertension in pregnancy should be treated. Clinical trials indicate that transient severe hypertension, antenatal hospitalization, proteinuria at delivery and neonatal respiratory distress syndrome may be decreased by normalizing blood pressure, but intrauterine fetal growth restriction may be increased. Methodological problems with published trials warrant cautious interpretation of these findings. Methyldopa and beta-blockers have been used most extensively, although atenolol may impair fetal growth in particular and should be avoided.

Copyright 2001 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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