OBJECTIVE: Women who suffered eclampsia or preterm preeclampsia are twice as likely to demonstrate cerebral white matter lesions (WML) on magnetic resonance imaging compared with age-matched women who had normotensive pregnancies, and they report more cognitive dysfunctions in everyday life. We aimed to determine whether pregnancy in and of itself has a relationship with the presence of WML and subjective cognitive dysfunction.
STUDY DESIGN: Eighty-one parous women who had a normotensive pregnancy were matched for age with 65 nulliparous women and all underwent cerebral magnetic resonance imaging. Presence of cerebral WML was rated and blood pressure was measured. Subjective cognitive functioning was assessed using the Cognitive Failures Questionnaire.
RESULTS: There was no difference in the presence (22% vs 19%) of WML between parous and nulliparous women. Age was a predictor for the presence of WML, whereas the presence of current hypertension was not. Average score on the Cognitive Failures Questionnaire was not different between both groups, nor related to WML.
CONCLUSION: A history of pregnancy in and of itself is not related to the presence of cerebral WML and the perception of cognitive dysfunction. Because of the relationship with preterm preeclampsia and eclampsia, future research should focus on the clinical importance and development throughout the years of such cerebral WML in young women and focus on risk factors for cardiovascular disease.