Mothers who have high blood pressure during pregnancy are more likely to develop chronic kidney disease later in life.
Researchers at the University of Aberdeen made the discovery after tracking a group of women for up to 60 years after they gave birth.
The results showed that those with hypertensive disorders such as high blood pressure or eclampsia had an increased risk of suffering from kidney disease than those with normal blood pressure.
Women who suffered from pre-eclampsia, characterised by high blood pressure and a large amount of protein in the urine, were more likely to develop kidney impairment first.
The study found that those who suffered from the pre-birth disorder had a “small but significant” increased risk of chronic kidney disease.
The paper, published in the journal Pregnancy Hypertension: An International Journal of Women’s Cardiovascular Health, used a variety of sources to compare the women’s post pregnancy health.
Dr Dolapo Ayansina who analysed the data, said: “For most women with hypertension, once the pregnancy is over, their blood pressure and symptoms generally return to normal but it hasn’t been known for sure whether there are long term implications for kidney function.
“So that’s basically what we are looking at – is there a suggestion of long-term implications for kidney function after the pregnancy and the baby has been delivered.
“The aim of the paper was to ask are we doing enough for women who have had hypertension in pregnancy. Currently we manage the symptoms during pregnancy then the women are sent home when blood pressure returns to normal.”
He added: “We look after women well in these stages. We were wondering if there’s a need to follow-up these women, monitor them more closely to see how these women are doing – do we just send them home or should we keep an eye and if there are problems we should catch it early.
“Our recommendations would be that maybe we should keep an eye on the renal function of these women who are at greater risk of kidney disease so that we can manage this if a problem occurs. “
Dr Ayansina said the link between high blood pressure during pregnancy and the increased risk of developing kidney problems could be useful in identifying issues with mothers later in life.
He said: “In the past women who were pregnant and developed hypertension would have their child and their blood pressure would go back to normal and they would be sent home.
“For the first few months after they give birth, they get checked but after that if everything is fine then that is that.
“The thing with kidney disease is that its features may not be obvious until much later, it takes time to develop – we are talking years. It may mean that issues can be picked up quicker if they do develop.”