Between 0.5% and 5% of all pregnancies are complicated by preeclampsia (PE), a multi-organ disease and the most significant cause of neurological symptoms during the peripartum period. Although numerous clinical studies assess neurocognitive outcome of children born to mothers with PE and various animal models of PE dealing with mechanisms and symptoms of this disease exist, there is a lack of basic and clinical research analyzing cognitive performance of mothers after PE. The aim was to critical review available literature regarding the effects of pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia on maternal cognitive functioning.
Analysis of current evidence from database PubMed with keywords "Preeclampsia AND cognition/memory", "Preeclampsia AND dementia", "Hypertensive pregnancy AND cognition/memory", "Placental ischemia-induced hypertension AND cognition/memory", "Transgenic preeclampsia rat model AND cognition/memory" and "Reduced uterine perfusion pressure AND cognition/memory" was performed. Publication years 1994-2014 were included in this analysis.
Search revealed only n=5 clinical studies dealing with the effect of PE/hypertensive pregnancies on cognitive outcome in mothers, whereas not a single report from basic research was available. Results from clinical research were rather conflicting with n=2 reporting no effect of a former preeclamptic pregnancy on cognition and n=3 showing impairments in cognitive functioning later in life.
Despite the fact that neurological symptoms are a well-known consequence of pregnancies complicated by PE, basic and clinical studies assessing cognitive abilities in formerly preeclamptic mothers are rare, conflicting, or even nonexistent. Given the fact that decrements in cognition and memory can not only lead to psychosocial problems but could moreover affect the interaction between mother and child, thus tremendously impacting the quality of life of both, more research relating to the origin and management of these issues is highly required.
K.M. Hillerer: None. V.R. Jacobs: None. L. Aigner: None. T. Fischer: None.