High Blood Pressure More Risky for Black Moms-to-Be

They have higher homocysteine levels than their white counterparts, study found

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WEDNESDAY, April 21, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Black women who have pregnancy-induced high blood pressure have more homocysteine and less folic acid in their blood than pregnant white women.

University of Pittsburgh researchers report their finding in the current online issue of Hypertension.

Homocysteine is an amino acid linked with atherosclerosis.

This difference between black women and white women may explain why black women have higher rates of a hypertension condition called preeclampsia, study author Thelma E. Patrick, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing and an assistant investigator at Magee-Womens Research Institute, said in a statement.

"There is a higher incidence of preeclampsia in black women, and we know that when black women experience the disorder they are more likely to have a more severe form that shows up as early as six months into pregnancy," Patrick said.

Researchers are uncertain if this difference between black women and white women is linked to diet, lifestyle or heredity. However, diets low in folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 have been linked to high homocysteine levels. Patrick suggests it may be necessary for black women to increase their intake of folic acid.

The study included 78 black women and 85 white women. Twenty-six of the black women and 34 of the white women had preeclampsia.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about preeclampsia.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, April 19, 2004

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