Studies show hypertension can occur in three percent of pregnancies. Health experts say it happens when the mother develops high blood pressure while pregnant.

Sheri Campbell, a nurse practitioner with Golisano Children’s Hospital, says mothers who are completely healthy can develop high blood pressure while pregnant, especially if it’s the mother’s first pregnancy or if she’s expecting multiple babies. “The high blood pressure is certainly a big deal. We see that as a real common cause for premature delivery. It can be very dangerous and it can lead to mother’s having seizures, even strokes.”

Campbell says hypertension can cause a high risk pregnancy for both mother and baby. “I think people really need to realize that it’s really a real risk and it’s important to deliver those babies early when the mother’s blood pressure is dangerously high.”

Things like genetics can cause hypertension, but it can also be brought on by smoking, lack of exercise, stress, drinking, and taking drugs. If a mother has hypertension while pregnant health experts may place her on bed rest.

“The nutrition of the baby can be compromised. A lot of times when the mom had chronic high blood pressure when the babies are born they are extra small and the umbilical cord is really small and they don’t get nourished the way they should” said Campbell.

She says mothers who deliver early because of high blood pressure are at a higher risk for developing hypertension in future pregnancies. After delivery, both mother and baby are monitored by health experts. Campbell says once out of the womb, the baby typically has a normal blood pressure.

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