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Mollie Wood, PhD

Faculty Starter Grant in Value Assessment and Health Outcomes Research, 2022 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Under Pressure: Evaluating Strategies for the Treatment of Chronic Hypertension During Pregnancy


About 1% of pregnancies in the United States occur in people with a pre-existing diagnosis of hypertension (high blood pressure), making it one of the most common chronic diseases complicating pregnancy. Both hypertension and the medications used to treat it have been linked to worse outcomes for the pregnant person and their infant. These outcomes may include miscarriage, birth defects, low birth weight, and others. There is uncertainty as to the best treatment strategy for pregnant people, particularly those with other comorbidities, with past poor pregnancy outcomes, or whose pre-pregnancy hypertension was well managed by a medication associated with increased risks to the fetus. My research will use data from electronic medical records to compare the safety and effectiveness of different antihypertensive medications during pregnancy. The highly detailed data include blood pressure measurements, clinical notes, and information on prescription fills, clinical diagnoses, and procedures. The results of this study will help people with hypertension and the clinicians who care for them make informed decisions about how to manage high blood pressure during pregnancy.

The PhRMA Foundation Starter Grant affords me the time and resources to do rigorous research on the treatment of chronic hypertension during pregnancy. The ability to create an electronic medical records database for comparative safety studies in pregnancy has been an incredible boost to my independent research portfolio and lays the groundwork for future efforts in this critical research area.