Pharmacoepidemiology and Prescription

European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

, Volume 65, Issue 6, pp 615-625

First online:

Maternal use of antihypertensive drugs in early pregnancy and delivery outcome, notably the presence of congenital heart defects in the infants

  • Roland LennestålAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Pharmacology, University of Umeå
  • , Petra Otterblad OlaussonAffiliated withCentre for Epidemiology, National Board of Health and Welfare
  • , Bengt KällénAffiliated withTornblad Institute, University of Lund Email author 

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To investigate the association between maternal use of antihypertensives in early pregnancy and delivery outcome, notably infant congenital malformations.


A cohort study of 1,418 women who had used antihypertensive drugs in early pregnancy but had no diabetes diagnosis were identified from the Swedish Medical Birth Register.


There was an excess risk for placental abruption, caesarean section, delivery induction, and post-delivery hemorrhage in women taking hypertensives. Infants were more often than expected born preterm, were small for gestational age, and had an excess of various neonatal symptoms. Cardiovascular defects occurred with an adjusted odds ratio of 2.59 (95% CI 1.92–3.51). The results were similar when the woman had used ACE inhibitors or other antihypertensives, notably beta blockers. Stillbirth rate was increased (risk ratio 1.87, 95% CI 1.02–3.02), again without any clear drug specificity.


There seems to be little drug specificity in the association between maternal use of antihypertensives and an increased risk for infant cardiovascular defects.


ACE inhibitors Antihypertensives Beta-blocking agents Cardiovascular defects Congenital malformations Stillbirths