Occurrence of Selected Structural Birth Defects Among Women With Preeclampsia and Other Hypertensive Disorders

Am J Epidemiol. 2018 Apr 1;187(4):668-676. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwx269.


To explore a potential association between preeclampsia and selected birth defects, we examined the prevalence of certain birth defects among women with hypertensive disorders including preeclampsia. We analyzed data from 2,499,536 singleton live births in California from 2007 to 2011, including maternal and infant demographics from birth certificates as well as clinical details from delivery hospitalization records. We examined defect groups that were recognizable at birth (e.g., spina bifida and cleft lip). Hypertensive disorders included preexisting hypertension, gestational hypertension, mild preeclampsia, severe preeclampsia/eclampsia, and preeclampsia superimposed on preexisting hypertension. Relative risk values with 95% confidence intervals for each birth defect were calculated by hypertensive group, as well as independent and joint associations of hypertensive and diabetic disorders. Risks of each type of birth defect were higher among offspring of women with hypertensive disorders compared with those without. The risks of birth defects among offspring of women with only a hypertensive disorder were significantly higher than that among women with neither hypertensive nor diabetic disorders (relative risks ranged from 1.37 to 2.77). Risks of birth defects were highest among those born to women with both hypertensive and diabetic disorders compared with those with neither (relative risks ranged from 1.80 to 6.22). These findings support the existence of an association between preeclampsia and certain birth defects and suggest that diabetes may be a contributing factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • California / epidemiology
  • Congenital Abnormalities / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced / epidemiology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Socioeconomic Factors