The study found 209 infants had been exposed to ACE inhibitors in the first three months of their mothers' pregnancy, 18 of whom had birth defects; in half, the heart was affected.
About 8 percent of pregnant women develop high blood pressure, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Exactly how many pregnant women take ACE inhibitors or another blood-pressure medication is unclear. However, a national survey found the number of ACE inhibitor prescriptions given to women of childbearing age increased from 1.4 million in 1995 to 2.7 million in 2002, the latest data available, the AP reports.
Pregnant women and those who are planning to become pregnant should avoid the drugs, the researchers warn, according to the Xinhua.