March 8 (UPI) -- Research shows high levels of folic acid taken during pregnancy may decrease high blood pressure in children born to mothers with cardiometabolic risk factors.
Childhood high blood pressure is linked to higher blood pressure in adulthood. High blood pressure increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, kidney disease and stroke.
Women with cardiometabolic risk factors during pregnancy, such as hypertensive disorders, diabetes and obesity, are at an increased risk of having a child with high blood pressure.
The prevalence of high blood pressure in children, especially among African Americans, has increased since the 1980s.
Researchers analyzed data from the Boston Birth Cohort, a study low-income and ethnic minorities at high risk for increased blood pressure.
The study included 1,290 mother-child pairs consisting of 67.8 percent African American and 19.2 percent Hispanic participants who were followed from birth through age 9 at Boston Medical Center.
Approximately 38.2 percent of the mothers had one or more cardiometabolic risk factors, 14.6 percent had hypertension, 11.1 percent had diabetes and 25.1 percent were obese. Of the babies born, 28.7 percent had elevated systolic blood pressure at age 3 to 9.
Researchers found women with cardiometabolic risk factors were more likely to have a child with higher systolic blood pressure.
The study showed that mothers with cardiometabolic risk factors who took higher levels of folic acid while pregnant had a 40 percent lower risk of having a baby with high blood pressure.
"Our study adds further evidence on the early life origins of high blood pressure," Dr. Xiaobin Wang, of Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a press release.
The study was published in the American Journal of Hypertension.