Pregnancy complications and later vascular ultrasound measures: A cohort study

Pregnancy Hypertens. 2017 Oct;10:171-176. doi: 10.1016/j.preghy.2017.08.001. Epub 2017 Aug 4.


Objectives: Pregnancy complications predict or even predispose to later cardiovascular disease in the mother. We examined whether pregnancy complications are associated with post-pregnancy measures of endothelial dysfunction and arterial stiffness.

Study design: Prospective cohort; Data for 847 women female participants in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns study were linked with the national birth registry. Preterm birth (<37weeks), low birthweight (<2500g), small-for-gestational-age (weight <10th percentile for gestational age), and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy were examined as predictors of later vascular measures.

Main outcome measures: Flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), Young's elastic modulus (YEM), and carotid artery distensibility.

Results: In some analyses, gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia were associated with increased YEM. Low birthweight was also associated with an increase in IMT, and this increased risk was present prior to the pregnancy.

Conclusions: The increased cardiovascular risk in the mother observed after low birthweight and hypertensive disorders may be due to vascular changes, and some of this increased risk may be present before pregnancy.

Keywords: Birth, premature; Brachial artery; Infant, low birth weight; Pre-eclampsia; Ultrasonography.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Carotid Arteries / physiopathology
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Pre-Eclampsia*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular
  • Prospective Studies
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult