May 22 is World Pre-eclampsia Day
More than 4.1 million women world-wide suffer from pre-eclampsia every year.
What is pre-eclampsia?
Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy related disorder. High blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine accompanies it. Pre-eclampsia can lead to severe complications for both the mother and baby.
Who is at risk of pre-eclampsia?
Pre-eclampsia can affect any pregnancy, but these pregnancies are more at risk:
- Family history of pre-eclampsia or a previous pregnancy with pre-eclampsia.
- Pre-existing high blood pressure, renal disorder or obesity.
- Age over 40 years or younger than 18.
- Expecting twins or triplets.
What causes pre-eclampsia?
The exact cause of pre-eclampsia is not known. What we do know is that the concentration of placental substances (e.g. PlGF and PAPP-A) are either too high or too low in pre-eclampsia compared to a healthy pregnancy.
Screening for pre-eclampsia
A screening test in weeks 10 to 13 of pregnancy can reliably predict the risk of developing pre-eclampsia. The screening test is non-invasive, simple and can be done during your check up with your healthcare provider.
The screening test involves:
- A blood test for PlGF (Placental Growth Factor) and PAPP-A (Pregnancy Associated Plasma Protein A).
- Measuring blood pressure.
- A urine test to detect proteins.
- An ultrasound scan.
If the results of the tests show that the woman is at high risk of pre-eclampsia, the healthcare provider can prescribe and monitor preventative measures.
What does the pre-eclampsia screening test tell you?
A low risk means that you are not likely to develop pre-eclampsia later in your pregnancy. Your healthcare provider will continue to provide you with normal prenatal care.
A high risk indicates that you have a higher risk than the norm to develop pre-eclampsia. Having a high risk is not your fault. It is not related to what you’re eating or stress. It is a relative common complication of pregnancy.
Pre-eclampsia can’t be cured, but if predicted early, it can be monitored and treated. Studies have shown that preventative care reduce the incidence of pre-eclampsia and also reduce the complications of pre-eclampsia for both the mother and baby.
Preventative care aims to prevent pre-eclampsia or delay the onset of pre-eclampsia. Administering low doses of aspirin before 16 weeks of pregnancy can reduce the incidence of pre-eclampsia. However, only your healthcare provider should advise and prescribe this.
If you have any concerns regarding your pregnancy, please contact your healthcare provider.
Download your pre-eclampsia information brochure here.