Preeclampsia Onset, Days to Delivery, and Autism Spectrum Disorders in Offspring: Clinical Birth Cohort Study



The journey of motherhood comes with its own set of joys and challenges. While some expecting mothers experience a relatively smooth pregnancy, others grapple with complications that can impact both their own health and the well-being of their developing baby. One such complication is preeclampsia, a serious condition marked by high blood pressure and signs of damage to other organs, typically the kidneys. It usually arises after 20 weeks of pregnancy and necessitates close monitoring and management.


A recent study published in April 2024 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research [] shed light on a potential link between preeclampsia and a childhood neurodevelopmental condition called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This blog post delves deeper into the details of this research, exploring the findings and their potential implications.


Understanding Preeclampsia and Its Effects


Preeclampsia disrupts a healthy pregnancy by causing a surge in blood pressure and damaging other organ systems, primarily the kidneys. Symptoms can include:

  • High blood pressure (often above 140/90 mmHg)
  • Protein in the urine (proteinuria)
  • Severe headaches
  • Vision problems (blurred vision, flashing lights)
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid weight gain


Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious health consequences for both mother and baby. Early detection and proper management are crucial to minimize risks.


Preeclampsia and the Risk of ASD: Exploring the Potential Connection


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition characterized by challenges with social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors. While the exact causes of ASD remain under investigation, genetics and environmental factors are believed to play a role.


This new research investigated the potential association between preeclampsia during pregnancy and the risk of ASD developing in the offspring. Researchers analyzed data from a clinical birth cohort study, following a group of mothers and their children over time. They categorized preeclampsia based on the gestational age at its first occurrence:

  • Less than 34 weeks (early-onset)
  • 34-37 weeks (mid-onset)
  • 37 weeks or more (late-onset)


The researchers then compared ASD diagnoses in the children to the presence and timing of preeclampsia in their mothers.


Key Findings and What They Reveal


The study’s findings revealed a noteworthy association between maternal preeclampsia and an increased risk of ASD in children. Here’s a breakdown of the key takeaways:

  • Children born to mothers with early-onset preeclampsia (before 34 weeks) had a significantly higher risk (62%) of developing ASD compared to the control group with no preeclampsia.
  • The risk of ASD decreased with later gestational age at preeclampsia onset. Mothers experiencing preeclampsia after 37 weeks did not see a significant increase in ASD risk in their children compared to the control group.
  • The number of days between preeclampsia diagnosis and delivery did not significantly influence the risk of ASD.


These findings suggest that the timing of preeclampsia onset might be a critical factor in the potential link to ASD development in children. Early-onset preeclampsia appears to be associated with a greater risk of ASD.


What Do These Findings Imply?


This research adds valuable insights to the ongoing exploration of potential risk factors for ASD. The observed association between early-onset preeclampsia and increased ASD risk highlights the importance of early diagnosis and effective management of preeclampsia during pregnancy.


However, it’s important to remember that correlation does not necessarily equal causation. More research is needed to fully understand the underlying biological mechanisms that might explain this potential link.


The Road Ahead: Future Research Directions


Future research endeavors could delve deeper into:

  • Investigating the biological pathways connecting preeclampsia to ASD development.
  • Studying the influence of other pregnancy complications on ASD risk.
  • Conducting larger-scale studies to confirm these findings and explore potential preventative measures.


Pregnant women diagnosed with preeclampsia, particularly those experiencing early onset, should be aware of this potential association and discuss any concerns with their healthcare providers. Early intervention and proper management of preeclampsia might be crucial in reducing the risk of ASD in children.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top