The maternal brain in (pre)eclampsia: Long-term neurocognitive functioning

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    Cognitive complaints following (pre)eclampsia

    This thesis investigates cognitive functioning in women who experienced preeclampsia, also known as toxaemia of pregnancy, and its relationship with brain scans . Preeclampsia is diagnosed when a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and an excess of protein in her urine. Around five percent of pregnant women develop this condition. Hospital admission is almost always necessary. In some cases preeclampsia can be complicated by eclampsia, a life-threatening complication characterized by seizures (fits). The exact cause of preeclampsia is currently unknown.

    It is notable that mothers report cognitive complaints until years after experiencing (pre)eclampsia, such as forgetfulness and attention difficulties. In addition, they have more complaints of anxiety and depression. This thesis shows, however, that women who had (pre)eclampsia have similar scores on cognitive tests compared to women who had a pregnancy without preeclampsia. Complaints mainly occur in complex and stressful daily life circumstances. Women who, in addition, experience symptoms of anxiety and depression may be more susceptible to these cognitive complaints. Altogether these complaints do seem to have an impact in daily life.

    In the last few years it has become evident that a percentage of women with (pre)eclampsia seems to be at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease in later life. This may explain why small changes on brain scans, normally present with ageing, are seen more often in these women, compared to women who had a pregnancy without preeclampsia or women who were never pregnant. These brain changes are normally seen with ageing. This thesis shows that women who experienced (pre)eclampsia perform similar on cognitive tests compared to women who had pregnancy without preeclampsia, and that there is no relationship with changes on brain scans. Future research needs to elucidate whether the experienced cognitive complaints in daily life and brain scan changes are a herald for impaired cognitive functioning at a later age.
    Translated title of the contributionHet maternale brein bij (pre-)eclampsie: Neurocognitief functioneren op de lange termijn
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    • Aarnoudse, Jan, Supervisor
    • Bouma, Anke, Supervisor
    • Zeeman, Geertruida, Co-supervisor
    Award date2-Jul-2014
    Place of Publication[S.l.]
    Print ISBNs978-90-367-6926-6
    Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-6925-9
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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