Genes from both the mother and father can trigger pre-eclampsia, finds a study published online by the British Medical Journal.
Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition where abnormally high bloodpressure and other disturbances develop in the second half ofpregnancy. It occurs in 3-5% of pregnancies and is dangerous for bothmother and child.
Researchers in Norway used birth registry data to study whethermen and women who are born after pre-eclamptic pregnancies pass on thisrisk to the next generation, compared with those who had no familyhistory of pre-eclampsia.
They found that daughters of women who had pre-eclampsia duringpregnancy had more than twice the risk of pre-eclampsia themselvescompared with other women. Men born after a pregnancy complicated bypre-eclampsia also had a moderately increased risk of fathering apre-eclamptic pregnancy.
These associations were stronger for the more severe types of pre-eclampsia.
Sisters of affected men or women, but who were not themselvesborn after a pre-eclampic pregnancy, also had an increased risk.However, for brothers, the risk of fathering a pre-eclamptic pregnancywas similar to that in men with no family history.
This suggests that maternal susceptibility can pass from mother to daughter but not from mother to son, write the authors.
These results support the theory that both the mother's and thefather's genes contribute to the risk of pre-eclampsia, say theauthors. The risk through affected mothers is higher because they carrytheir mother's susceptibility genes and also transmit independentgenetic risk factors to their unborn child. The risk through affectedfathers is lower because fathers transmit only fetal risk genes.
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