Depressing Study Shows Another Way We Screw Up Our Kids Before They're Even Born

Health Check 5

You know what I just can't get enough of? Studies that show how things we totally cannot help during pregnancy may have long-lasting effects on our children. That's why I'm super-excited to hear that the high blood pressure I experienced during my first pregnancy may mean that my son has "a propensity toward lower cognitive ability"!

Awesome. Another thing to feel pointlessly guilty about: getting sent to the hospital at 37 weeks and pumped full of magnesium sulfate didn't just hose my shot at a non-nauseated, non-C-section birth, it made my kid DUMB.

Not that I think he's dumb at all -- if, for instance, having the eerie ability to assemble a complicated fighter jet out of a trillion instep-bruising LEGOs while 95 percent of his attention is directed at a Looney Tunes episode is any indication, my kid seems to be doing fine in at least some of the brains department (although I do question his ability to correctly identify a "clean" bedroom).

According to this recent Finnish study, however, he has a higher chance of being behind his peers in arithmetic reasoning and total cognitive ability in both young adulthood and old age. The research seems to indicate that men whose mothers' pregnancies had complications from hypertensive disorders displayed lower IQs than those whose mothers did not have high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Like all studies, this one's not exactly bulletproof: researchers only looked at men in Finland, the sample size was small, and there wasn't enough data to include two high blood pressure measurements in order to establish hypertensive disorders. Soo ... yeah, grain of salt, and all that.

Still, it's not something I feel great about hearing. These are the kinds of studies that make me a little crazy, honestly, because it's not like there's anything a person can do to avoid the situation. I mean, believe me, if I could have skipped the whole high blood pressure thing, I SO would have -- and I didn't even experience the sort of terrifying, life-threatening, early-in-pregnancy preeclampsia many women go through.

It seems like there's new research every day that tells us everything we do as parents, either by accident or on purpose, is wrong in some way. For the most part, I just tune most of them out, but I'm curious -- how do you deal with Big Bummer Studies? Do you absorb everything and adjust your life accordingly? Do you take in what you can, and discard the rest? Or do you stick your fingers in your ears and shout LA LA LA LA LA like I sometimes do?

Image via Jasleen_Kaur/Flickr

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mello... mellowknees

I adjust where I can, but if a study is about something that's already happened, or something I can't possibly change (like your blood pressure during pregnancy), I tend to stick my fingers in my ears and go "lalalalalala". 

nonmember avatar Brit

As I snuggle my 6 week old future dummy (I had high Bp from 31 weeks on), I would say la la la! Also, rather than piling on the guilt how about researching either how to prevent/treat high Bp in pregnancy or how to ameliorate the cognitive effects for our babies once born!

nonmember avatar zizzler

A fool would take this information as a personal attack against her, even though she knows the circumstances were out of her control, and she sees one study's correlation as a permanent label on her young child. A wise mother would take this information and use it to help prepare for possible outcomes associated with the situation she was given, and possibly even use to to help others prevent the same risks from happening to them.

jessi... jessicasmom1

really hahha I guess your going to say my DD is dummy hardly not and was emergency c section

Hope Allyson

It's important to pay attention to certain words in articles on scientific studies; in the linked article, 'may' is the big one. There is no definite proof, only association. Even if absolute proof surfaces, the negative effects of high blood pressure cannot possibly apply to every baby born. I had preeclampsia with my first son (blood pressure was roughly 160/90), and he is very intelligent for a three-year old. The media doesn't have to try very hard at all to scare us moms, but we need to remember the tricks of the trade and look a bit deeper into the scares before we panic.

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