Fetal Development and Hypertension

Published Online: Saturday, March 1, 2003

It is believed that poor nutrition during pregnancy will adversely affect the development of the fetus?s nephrons, resulting in fewer of these crucial blood filtration units in the kidneys.

A German team studied 20 middle-aged deceased individuals who were accident victims and found a correlation between their nephron counts and histories of high blood pressure. Because evidence links maternal nutrition and low birth weight to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease decades later, the researchers suggested that nutrition and nephron numbers might be linked as well. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, concludes that low protein intake during pregnancy could affect nephron number in the fetus and thus the baby?s risk of high blood pressure as an adult.

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