There is controversy over the effect of hypertension in pregnancy on the incidence of neonatal respiratory distress syndrome. We investigated the association between maternal hypertension and the incidence of respiratory distress syndrome in 268 very low birthweight babies of less than 34 weeks' gestation. A lower incidence of respiratory distress syndrome was associated with growth retardation and membrane rupture greater than 24 hours. Maternal hypertension was associated with an increased incidence of respiratory distress syndrome. We used the multiple logistic regression model to control for confounding variables, as the maternal and neonatal factors associated with respiratory distress syndrome were not evenly distributed between the two groups. After adjustment for birth weight, gestational age, growth retardation, and membrane rupture greater than 24 hours, the risk of developing respiratory distress syndrome was significantly greater in babies of hypertensive mothers. Significance was lost when labour before delivery and mode of delivery were taken into account. The increased incidence of respiratory distress syndrome in babies of hypertensive mothers may be due to the absence of labour before delivery because of the greater likelihood of caesarean section.
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