A father’s genes may contribute to his partner’s risk of preeclampsia , the dangerously high blood pressure condition that can occur in pregnancy, a Norwegian-American study has found.
Pre-eclampsia (previously called toxemia) is a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy. It is defined to exist when a pregnant woman with gestational hypertension develops proteinuria. Originally, edema was considered part of the syndrome of pre-eclampsia, but presently the former two symptoms are sufficient for a diagnosis of pre-eclampsia.
It’s been known that women born after a pregnancy affected by preeclampsia are at increased risk of experiencing the condition in their own pregnancies.
The study found that the daughters of women who had preeclampsia during pregnancy had twice the normal risk of having the condition in their pregnancies, as earlier studies have shown. But it also found a 50 percent risk of the condition in pregnancies fathered by men who were born under the same conditions.
“The father’s gene is what is contributing to preeclampsia,” explained study author Dr. Rolv Skjaerven, an epidemiologist at the University of Bergen. “He has no way he can influence this pregnancy other than by a genetic mechanism.”
The incidence of severe cases of the condition was tripled in pregnancies involving women who were born after preeclamptic pregnancies and nearly doubled for men, the study found.
The genetic risk can run throughout a family, the study found.