According to a new study published in the journal BMJ on July 9, babies born premature and/or small in size from mothers who developed preeclampsia during pregnancy have an increased risk of developing cerebral palsy. The researchers found that full-term babies of a normal size do not carry the same risk, HealthDay News reports in an article. Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that develops in infants and young children. The condition“permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
For the study, the researchers examined information from 850 Norwegian children with cerebral palsy and more than 616,000 Norwegian children without the condition who were born any time between 1996 and 2006. The data analysis revealed that “children who were born both moderately preterm (between 32 and 36 weeks) or very preterm (less than 31 weeks) and whose mothers had preeclampsia had a significantly increased risk of cerebral palsy, if they were also smaller than usual at birth,” according to HealthDay News. However, babies who were born to term did not have the same increased risk.
Preeclampsia is medically defined on MedLine Plus as a condition in which a pregnant woman “develops high blood pressure and protein in the urine” after her 20th week of pregnancy. HealthDay News further reports that the researchers adjusted the results of the study for factors such as “mother’s age, smoking during pregnancy, in vitro fertilization and sex of the child.” The authors of the study recommend that doctors give special care to mothers with preeclampsia who may give birth to a smaller-than-average baby. Although there is an increased chance of cerebral palsy in babies born premature or small from mothers with preeclampsia, it does not indicate a cause and effect relationship, the researchers say.