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Pre-eclampsia and the brain

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 17 October 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4236

Linked research

Pre-eclampsia and risk of dementia later in life

  1. Joel G Ray, professor1 2,
  2. Alison L Park, epidemiologist2
  1. 1Departments of Medicine, Health Policy Management and Evaluation, and Obstetrics and Gynecology, St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada
  2. 2Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  1. Correspondence to: J G Ray rayj{at}

A possible link with later dementia needs careful exploration

In a linked paper (doi:10.1136/bmj.k4109), Basit and colleagues investigated the risk of dementia in women with and without a history of pre-eclampsia.1 After a median follow-up of 21.1 years, they report a 3.5 times higher risk of vascular dementia (105 cases in total), a 1.5 times higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease (676 cases), and a 1.4 times higher risk of other or non-specific dementias (947 cases) among women with pre-eclampsia in at least one pregnancy. Risk of any dementia was higher for women with a history of recurrent pre-eclampsia (hazard ratio 2.8) than for women with pre-eclampsia in a single pregnancy (hazard ratio 1.4).

As the median age at the end of follow-up was just 49 years, and only 10% of women were over 64 years of age, relatively few participants developed dementia; however, the overall numbers were sufficient to generate significant associations …

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