New research suggests that women who suffer migraine headaches are at increased risk for developing high blood pressure during pregnancy, a condition known as gestational hypertension, as well as preeclampsia - a condition of pregnancy marked by high blood pressure, fluid retention and protein in urine.
Several studies have looked at the link between migraine and high blood pressure during pregnancy, but due to their "methodological weaknesses" these studies have provided only weak evidence of the association between migraine and onset of high blood pressure in pregnancy, Dr Fabio Facchinetti, from the University of Modena, Italy, and colleagues explain in the medical journal Cephalalgia.
To investigate further, they studied 702 pregnant women with normal blood pressure who were seen at clinics in Northern Italy.
Overall, a little more than 38% of the women suffered from migraine headaches and roughly 9% of these women developed high blood pressure or other "hypertensive" disorder while pregnant, compared with just 3% of women who did not suffer migraines.
Women with migraine were 2.85-fold more likely than women without migraine to develop high blood pressure while pregnant. There was also a trend toward a higher rate of low birth weight infants in the migraine group.
"Women with migraine," the researchers conclude, "are to be considered at increased risk of developing hypertensive disorders in pregnancy." - (Reuters Health, February 2009)