Pre-eclampsia, a frequent complication of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, is associated with an increased risk for heart defects in newborns, a large study has found.

Canadian researchers studied records of all live births in hospitals in Quebec from 1989 to 2012, a total of 1,942,072 newborns. The study, in JAMA, found an overall prevalence of heart defects of 8.9 per 1,000 births. But the rate among women with pre-eclampsia was 16.7 per 1,000. Defects in the septums, the walls that separate the heart’s chambers, were the most common, but all parts of the heart were affected: the aorta, pulmonary artery, valves and ventricles.

The lead author, Dr. Nathalie Auger of the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center, said obesity is a risk factor for pre-eclampsia, but there is currently no way to prevent pre-eclampsia or heart defects.

Certain personality traits are often attributed to oldest, middle and youngest children. But a new study found that birth order itself had no effect on character, though it may slightly affect intelligence.

Researchers analyzed three large ongoing collections of data including more than 20,000 people: a British study that follows people born in one particular week in 1958, a German study of private households started in 1984 and a continuing study of Americans born between 1980 and 1984.

No matter how they spliced the data, they could find no association of birth order with any personality characteristic.

The study, in PNAS, did find evidence that older children have a slight advantage in IQ scores, but the difference was apparent only in a large sample, with little significance for any individual.

Being married may improve the odds of a good recovery after surgery, according to a new report.

The study, in JAMA Surgery, included 1,567 people 50 and older who underwent cardiac operations: 1,026 married, 184 divorced or separated, 331 widowed and 35 never married.

The researchers collected information on whether they needed help before their operations in six activities of daily living: dressing, walking, bathing, eating, toileting or getting in and out of bed. They interviewed them (or their survivors) two years after surgery.

About 20 percent of married patients had either died or developed a new dependency within two years of their operations. But 28.8 percent of divorced or separated people and 33.8 percent of the widowed had these negative outcomes.

New York Times News Service