Congenital defects and early childhood outcomes following in-utero exposure to antihypertensive medication

Catherine A Fitton, Michael Fleming, Lorna Aucott, Jill P Pell, Daniel F Mackay, James S McLay* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Hypertensive disorders during pregnancy are an important risk to mother and fetus, frequently necessitating antihypertensive treatment. Data describing the safety of in-utero exposure to antihypertensive treatment is conflicting with many studies suffering from significant methodological issues.

METHOD: We conducted a retrospective cohort study using linked routinely collected healthcare records for 268 711 children born 2010-2014 in Scotland to assess outcomes following in-utero exposure to antihypertensive medication.

RESULTS: We identified a cohort of 265 488 eligible mother-child pairs born over the study period; of which, 2433 were exposed in utero to antihypertensive medication, 4391 exposed to treated late-onset hypertension and 6066 exposed to untreated hypertension during pregnancy. In-utero antihypertensive exposure was associated with an increased risk of circulatory defects (aOR 2.29; 99% CI 1.14-4.59) compared with normal controls and the untreated hypertensive group. We report no increased odds of any developmental outcomes at 2.5 years of age following exposure to antihypertensive medication during pregnancy, untreated hypertension or late-onset hypertension.

CONCLUSION: Although circulatory defects may be associated with antihypertensive medication exposure during pregnancy, the mechanisms underlying this process are unclear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-588
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hypertension
Issue number3
Early online date9 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • antihypertensive therapy
  • child development
  • congenital defects
  • hypertension


Dive into the research topics of 'Congenital defects and early childhood outcomes following in-utero exposure to antihypertensive medication'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this