New evidence shows that women who exercise during pregnancy may be protecting their babies against the risk of developing high blood pressure later in life.Alan Antiporda/Flickr

Using donor eggs to become pregnant can increase the risk of several complications including gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia, according to a new study from France.

Pre-eclampsia is a condition that triggers hypertension. It can pose several health risks to both the pregnant woman and her baby. Women suffering from pre-eclampsia will have high blood pressure, fluid retention and protein in the urine, which leads to an adverse impact on the growth of the unborn baby in the uterus.

In the new study, Dr Hélène Letur from the Institut Mutualiste Montsouris in Paris used data from seven IVF centres in France. The study looked at 580 pregnancies using IVF procedure, of which 217 resulted from egg donation.

Study results showed a direct link between pregnancy with donor eggs and gestational hypertension. Women who used donor eggs to get pregnant had three times higher risk of suffering from hypertension and pre-eclampsia than women in the control group (363).

"We would have to conclude from the results that egg donation itself is a risk factor for pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia," Dr Letur, said in a news release.

The findings are particularly important as egg donations have become a popular trend these days, the researchers added. Additionally, countless studies in the past have shown that these medical conditions, though temporary during pregnancy, leave a lasting impact on the women's health. A study reported in April last year found that women with hypertensive disease during pregnancy were at increased risk of many severe forms of hot flashes and night sweats during menopause. Studies have also linked gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia to poor birth outcomes like premature birth, low birth weight, lowered intelligence levels of children and cardiovascular diseases in mothers.

Dr Letur also expected that the study results will help doctors to identify patients at greater risk of these complications and provide appropriate interventions. "A few other studies have shown results suggesting an increased risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension in egg donation patients," he said. "However, most of them have small samples and do not adequately control for several important confounders, such as women's age, multiple pregnancy, and infertility history. Our aim was to find out whether pregnancies from egg donation are genuinely associated with a higher risk of hypertension and pre-eclampsia than those from treatments using the patient's own eggs. This has growing importance because of the increasing number of egg donations."

Dr Letur presented the study at the 30th Annual Meeting of ESHRE held in Munich.