Folic acid is particularly important for women during pregnancy. According to a new study done by Johns Hopkins University in the US, this vitamin can prevent babies from developing high blood pressure if they are born to mothers with cardiometabolic risk factors. During the pregnancy phase, if the mother has had higher levels of folate it reduces the odds of elevated childhood systolic blood pressure by 40 per cent.
The study 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. Children with high systolic blood pressure were also more likely to have lower birth weight, lower gestational age, higher BMI, as well as risks of high blood pressure in adulthood.
"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.