Prehypertension During Pregnancy: Is It Risky For The Baby?


Prehypertension or borderline hypertension is considered very dangerous during pregnancy.  This condition can have severe negative outcomes. It not only affects the health of the mother, but also the baby.

Prehypertension can actually be life threatening for the baby. The most common outcome of borderline high pressure in pregnant women is stillbirth or low birth weight of the baby. Women who develop prehypertension at the later stages of pregnancy are more likely to give still birth. Even a slight elevation in blood pressure during pregnancy is risky for your baby.

What is prehypertension?

Prehypertension is a state when your blood pressure is within borderline range. In this condition, the top number is usually within 120-139mmHg and the bottom number is 80-89mmHg. This is a warning that your blood pressure is comparatively high and can cross the border anytime. It is above normal and can be fatal during pregnancy. It is normally without any symptoms and cannot be easily diagnosed.


What triggers prehypertension?

There is no particular cause of elevation in blood pressure. There are few common factors that can trigger prehypertension.

  • It is one of the potential causes behind elevation in blood pressure.
  • The more you weigh, the more at risk you are of developing prehypertension during pregnancy.
  • Having type 2 diabetes can cause an elevation in the blood pressure during pregnancy.
  • Living an inactive life, not doing exercise can lead to obesity. This will in turn cause borderline hypertension.
  • Sodium rich diet. Taking too much salt in your diet can shoot your blood pressure to borderline range.
  • Too much alcohol consumption can also trigger prehypertension.
  • Fatty food. Eating junk food rich in fat will inevitable cause your blood pressure levels to shoot up.

Is it risky for the baby?

Developing prehypertension during pregnancy can be very fatal to your baby. Women who have prehypertension in or after the 36th week have high chances of giving birth to a baby with low weight. The elevation in blood pressure from early to advance stage of pregnancy is risky for the baby, even if it does not reach prehypertension level.


According to a study, these women are 69 percent more likely to birth infants with low weight than women who have normal blood pressure. The study suggested that women who have an increase of more than 15 points in the bottom reading of blood pressure give birth to underweight infants. This is because a higher blood pressure prevents the fetus from receiving necessary nourishment from the mother.

 Proper nourishment is very important for the overall development of a baby. Not getting sufficient nutrients in the womb leads to an underweight baby. An underweight baby can have severe health complications in the future. This is one of the dangerous outcomes of developing prehypertension during pregnancy.

Stillbirth is another risk if a pregnant woman develops borderline hypertension. Compared to pregnant women with normal blood pressure, prehypertensive women have 70 percent higher risk of giving stillbirth. Borderline high pressure in an expecting mother can cause preeclampsia. This is a severe medical condition which causes high blood pressure in the baby. It can result in organ failure of the baby. Women with diabetes mellitus are at a greater risk of giving stillbirth compared to others.

Prehypertension can also lead to premature delivery. Sometimes the baby has to be delivered prematurely to prevent stillbirth. Premature babies are also vulnerable to various health problems as they grow up. Breathing troubles and vulnerability to many infections is common in premature babies as they have low immunity mostly.

Is it risky for the mother?

Having prehypertension is a warning sign. You may have hypertension in near future if you are in the borderline. Hypertension is very risky for a pregnant woman. One of the risks of prehypertension during pregnancy is to develop preeclampsia. This condition can damage the organs of your body like kidney, liver or brain.

Preeclampsia can also lead to future heart problems. The chances of having a heart attack or stroke or brain hemorrhage increases with prehypertension.  It is very risky for your health as well as your baby.


How to prevent it?

Lifestyle change is the best way to prevent prehypertension.  These are:

  • Start a healthy diet to prevent rising blood pressure. Include foods that are rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium. Protein rich foods, fruits and vegetables are also necessary to prevent high blood pressure. Consult a dietician for a healthy pregnancy diet to effectively deal with blood pressure problems.
  • Exercising is very important to prevent high blood pressure. You should ideally start exercising before you conceive. This will reduce the chance of developing prehypertension during later stages of pregnancy. Even if you are already expecting, start light exercises to maintain an active lifestyle. Being physically inactive will lead to a rise in pressure levels.
  • Avoid gaining weight. Obesity is a primary trigger of prehypertension during pregnancy. Stay away from being overweight. If you have gained weight due to pregnancy, try to lose the extra weight. Even losing a little weight can lower your blood pressure level.
  • Quit smoking and drinking to successfully prevent the chances of prehypertension. Tobacco and alcohol are potential triggers of blood pressure elevation. Quit immediately if you want your baby to be safe and healthy.
  • Limit the amount of sodium in your diet. Too much salt in the food can cause high blood pressure. Avoiding sodium and packaged foods can help prevent borderline high pressure.


Prehypertension is a serious medical condition. It means the blood pressure can elevate to abnormal range anytime. Developing prehypertension during pregnancy can be fatal. It can prove to be very harmful to your baby. You are more likely to give birth to an underweight baby if you are diagnosed with prehypertension. Even stillbirth is highly possible in pregnant women with elevated blood pressure. It is very important to go for routine checking of your blood pressure during your pregnancy. Consult your doctor immediately if you are diagnosed with prehypertension.