MH finds out how high blood pressure during pregnancy can affect both you and your baby.
WORDS NURULHUDA SUHAIMI
High blood pressure is one of the medical conditions women may experience while they are pregnant. For some women, the presence of high blood pressure during their pregnancy is not a cause of concern, and will not affect the health and development of the baby, as long as the high blood pressure is carefully monitored and properly managed.
For others, however, their high blood pressure may be more severe,
and can have adverse effects on both mother and baby.
For example, it may result in damage to the mother’s organs, or cause the baby to be delivered prematurely. How else can it affect your baby and what are some possible pregnancy complications?
Complications of high blood pressure to the pregnant mother usually result from a sudden increase in blood pressure, which may cause damage to the mother’s organs. Dr Chen Lin Han, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Specialist Women’s Clinic Pte Ltd, Mount Alvernia Hospital highlights the following organs that are particularly prone to injury from high blood pressure, as well as the potential damages:
Brain: haemorrhage and fits/seizure
Liver: malfunction and liver rupture
Kidney: proteinuria (excess proteins in urine), kidney failure
Haematological system: blood clotting disorders
Heart: heart failure
Lung: fluid congestion (pulmonary edema)
Effects on Baby
Aside from maternal complications during pregnancy, high blood pressure may affect the baby’s health and development as well. The effects of high blood pressure to the baby may occur during the foetal period or newborn period. “When the foetus is in utero (foetal period), the raised blood pressure can cause decreased nutrient and oxygen supply to the foetus, resulting in a slow down in growth (intrauterine growth restriction). Due to the decreased nutrient and oxygen storage, the foetus may display an abnormal heart beat pattern (foetal distress) during labour,” says Dr Chen.
Intrauterine growth restriction of the foetus may also be caused by an “overzealous reduction of the blood pressure with antihypertensive medication”, says Dr Tony Tan, specialist in Obstetrician and Gynaecology at Raffles Women’s Centre, Raffles Hospital.
If the pregnant mother has pre-eclampsia, this may result in the
baby having to be delivered prematurely to prevent the pre-eclampsia
from progressing any further.
According to Dr Tan, the presence of pre-eclampsia in the pregnant mother may also cause placental abruption, which may result in stillbirth of the foetus. Placental abruption occurs when the placenta partly or completely separates from the uterus before the baby is delivered.