Research Article

Factors associated with the intellectual ability of children born to women with high risk pregnancies.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984; 288 doi: (Published 07 April 1984) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984;288:1038
  1. M Ounsted,
  2. V A Moar,
  3. J Cockburn,
  4. C W Redman


    The intellectual abilities of 242 children born to women who had been hypertensive during pregnancy were assessed at the age of 7 1/2 years. Associations between 15 maternal, fetal, perinatal, postnatal and environmental factors, and test scores were investigated. After adjustment for confounding variables children in the upper social classes, born to non-smokers, who were first born, breast fed, and with birth weights above the 10th centile had significantly higher scores in some aspects of ability than the rest. Children whose mothers had developed superimposed pre-eclampsia had higher scores than those whose mothers had not suffered preeclampsia; and children delivered by elective caesarean section had lower scores than those delivered spontaneously. In a small subgroup of women with particularly high risk pregnancies perinatal mortality had been 10 times greater than in the rest of the sample. At 7 1/2 years the intellectual ability of the survivors in this subgroup did not differ from that of the rest. These findings do not support the notion that there is a quantitative continuum of "reproductive casualty" from mortality to morbidity.