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J Psychiatr Res. 2012 Mar;46(3):303-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2011.11.015. Epub 2011 Dec 12.

Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy and risk of severe mental disorders in the offspring in adulthood: the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study.

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Department of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.



Hypertensive disorders may affect the fetal developmental milieu and thus hint at mechanisms by which prenatal adversity associates with mental disorders in later life. We examined if hypertension without proteinuria and preeclampsia in pregnancy predict serious mental disorders in the offspring, and if sex, childhood socioeconomic status, length of gestation and parity modify these associations.


We included 5970 women and men born after a normotensive, hypertensive or preeclamptic pregnancy defined by using mother's blood pressure and urinary protein measurements at maternity clinics and birth hospitals. Mental disorders requiring hospitalization or contributing to death were identified from the Finnish Hospital Discharge and Causes of Death Registers between years 1969 and 2004.


In comparison to the offspring born after normotensive pregnancies, offspring born after pregnancies complicated by hypertension without proteinuria were at 1.19-fold (CI: 1.01-1.41, P-value = 0.04) higher risk of any mental disorder and 1.44- (CI: 1.11-1.88, P-value < 0.01) and 1.39-fold (CI: 0.99-1.93, P-value = 0.05) higher risk of mood and anxiety disorder, respectively. In contrast, preeclampsia was associated, with a lower risk of any mental disorder in the male offspring (P-value = 0.02; P-value = 0.04 for interaction 'sex × normotension/preeclampsia').


Hypertension without proteinuria in pregnancy was associated with a higher risk of serious mental disorders in the offspring in adulthood. Preeclampsia seems to, in turn, associate with lower risk of severe mental disorders in male offspring.

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