The impact of parity on life course blood pressure trajectories: the HUNT study in Norway

Eirin B. Haug*, Julie Horn, Amanda Rose Markovitz, Abigail Fraser, Corrie Macdonald-Wallis, Kate Tilling, Pål Richard Romundstad, Janet Wilson Rich-Edwards, Bjørn Olav Åsvold

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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The drop in blood pressure during pregnancy may persist postpartum, but the impact of pregnancy on blood pressure across the life course is not known. In this study we examined blood pressure trajectories for women in the years preceding and following pregnancy and compared life course trajectories of blood pressure for parous and nulliparous women. We linked information on all women who participated in the population-based, longitudinal HUNT Study, Norway with pregnancy information from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway. A total of 23,438 women were included with up to 3 blood pressure measurements per woman. Blood pressure trajectories were compared using a mixed effects linear spline model. Before first pregnancy, women who later gave birth had similar mean blood pressure to women who never gave birth. Women who delivered experienced a drop after their first birth of − 3.32 mmHg (95% CI, − 3.93, − 2.71) and − 1.98 mmHg (95% CI, − 2.43, − 1.53) in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, respectively. Subsequent pregnancies were associated with smaller reductions. These pregnancy-related reductions in blood pressure led to persistent differences in mean blood pressure, and at age 50, parous women still had lower systolic (− 1.93 mmHg; 95% CI, − 3.33, − 0.53) and diastolic (− 1.36 mmHg; 95% CI, − 2.26, − 0.46) blood pressure compared to nulliparous women. The findings suggest that the first pregnancy and, to a lesser extent, successive pregnancies are associated with lasting and clinically relevant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Early online date24 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jan 2018


  • Blood pressure
  • Epidemiology
  • Life course
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy


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