Further research is needed into an initial hypothesis that common drugs given to pregnant women suffering high blood pressure can affect a child’s development, experts have said.
Researchers in the Netherlands found that the children of women who received labetalol and methyldopa were four times more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than mothers-to-be who were prescribed only rest. Twice as many youngsters exposed to labetalol rather than methyldopa suffered from ADHD.
However, children whose mothers had been treated with methyldopa had more sleeping problems than those exposed to labetalol or whose mothers had only taken bed rest, the study in the BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology reported.
Experts looked at a total of 4,000 patient records from 12 hospitals and also followed 202 children as part of their study. The children, aged between four and 10, underwent central nervous system tests looking for problems with behaviour, concentration, IQ and motor skills.
The women all had high blood pressure t developed during their pregnancy or was made worse by their condition. About 7 per cent of all pregnant women are affected by high blood pressure.