B3005 - Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and mental and behavioural disorders in offspring - 22/03/2018

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Rosa Alati | University of Queensland (Australia)
Berihun Dachew, Ass. Prof Abdullah A Mamun, Dr. Kim Betts
Title of project: 
Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and mental and behavioural disorders in offspring
Proposal summary: 

There has been increasing research attention to the impact of in utero exposures to specific perinatal risk factors and their potential impact on diseases later in life. One of these is hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP), a perinatal condition which affects up to 10% of pregnancies globally. Current evidence shows that HDP are associated with an increased risk of offspring cardiovascular, immune, metabolic disorders in later life. HDP are also responsible for various adverse perinatal outcomes such as preterm birth, low birth weight and intrauterine growth restriction, which are known risk factors for numerous mental health morbidities. In addition, HDP may also affect brain development via utero-placental vascular insufficiency and fetal malnutrition and lead to subsequent neurobehavioral difficulties. A lot of research has been conducted on the associations between HDP and cognitive functioning in offspring, however, evidence on the effect of intrauterine exposure to HDP on offspring mental and behavioural disorders is not well-established.
Two systematic reviews conducted by this team, one currently under review and the other one accepted by the British Journal of Psychiatry have shown that HDP had a negative impact for a range mental or behavioural disorders. Our finding showed that preeclampsia was associated with increased risk of offspring schizophrenia. The risk of Autism spectrum disorder was also 32% higher in offspring who had intrauterine exposure to preeclampsia as compared to those non-exposed. However, we found inconclusive finding on the effect of HDP and other mental and behavioural disorders, suggesting the need of further studies to progress this area of research. Following on from these findings, this PhD project aims to add to the existing evidence in a meaningful way by conducting a high quality, large sample, birth cohort study.

Impact of research: 
This research has a potential to provide accurate information on whether there is a direct link between HDP and a range of mental and behavioural disorders in offspring. This will have potential benefits in terms of advancing the existing knowledge and help clinical decision making for interventions during pregnancy, thereby improving near and long term offspring mental health outcomes.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 29 November, 2017
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Epidemiology, Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, mental disorders, behavioural disorders, offspring