Protecting Your Health and Your Baby’s
Most women have a normal pregnancy and are healthy throughout. However, pre-eclampsia is still a relatively common complication, affecting between two and eight out of every 100 pregnancies. It can have devastating effects for you and your unborn baby, but if your risks for developing pre-eclampsia are detected in time, it can be monitored and even prevented altogether. Screening for the risk of pre-eclampsia is an important first step you can take to protect your health and that of your baby.
Women around the world develop pre-eclampsia annually
Pre-term births are caused by pre-eclampsia each year
Die every year due to pre-eclampsia
How does pre-eclampsia screening work?
Pre-eclampsia screening includes a blood test, a blood pressure measurement and, in some cases, an ultrasound. These test results are combined with your maternal history to calculate your individual risk for pre-eclampsia. You can know your risk of developing pre-eclampsia by making an appointment with your doctor between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy.
Protecting health of moms & babies
What are the risk factors?
Some pregnancies are at greater risk than others.
Keep in mind that pre-eclampsia can occur in any pregnancy, regardless of risk factors. However, you present a higher risk if:
- This is your first pregnancy, or even your first pregnancy with your current partner.
- You have already had pre-eclampsia, or your mother or sister had one.
- You have a BMI (Body Mass Index) greater than or equal to 35.
- You are 40 years old or older.
- You are expecting twins, triplets or quadruplets.
- You suffer from high blood pressure, kidney problems and or diabetes.
- Your pregnancy was medically assisted by in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Why should my risk of pre-eclampsia be assessed
Any woman can be at risk.
The fact that you present risk factors does not mean that you will have pre-eclampsia. Conversely, you may have no known risk factors but still develop pre-eclampsia.. This condition is not caused by your eating habits, or by physical or emotional stress. That’s why early screening is the best way to find out if you are at high risk of developing the condition. When you screen for pre-eclampsia, your prior risk factors are combined with your screening test results to determine the likelihood of developing it, so treatment can be started if needed to delay it or prevent it.
What is the preventive treatment?
Reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia.
Preventive treatment for women at high risk of developing pre-eclampsia is aimed at preventing pre-eclampsia altogether or, at the very least, delaying its onset. That way your pregnancy can continue safely, and the baby will have time it needs to develop. A daily low dose of 150 mg of aspirin at bedtime, under the direct care of your doctor, has been shown to be effective in reducing the rate of pre-eclampsia. The use of aspirin to pre-eclampsia should always be discussed with a healthcare professional.
How can I ensure the best outcome?
Timing is everything.
It’s important to identify your risk of pre-eclampsia as early as possible in the pregnancy with screening (before 13 weeks). If the results are positive, your doctor can monitor your pregnancy more carefully, and begin preventive treatment when it’s most effective.
There are also a number of national and international organizations that provide additional information to help you get a deeper understanding of pre-eclampsia management, and what to expect during testing and after.
Kuklina EV, et al. Hypertensive Disorders and Severe Obstetric Morbidity in the United States. Obstet Gynecol 2009; 113:1299-306
Tan MY, Wright D, Poon LCY, Nicolaides KH. Comparison of diagnostic accuracy of early screening for pre-eclampsia by NICE guidelines and a method combining maternal factors and biomarkers: results of SPREE. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2018 Mar 14
Wright D, Rolnik DL, Poon LCY, Nicolaides KH. Aspirin for Evidence-Based Preeclampsia Prevention trial: effect of aspirin on length of stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2018 Mar 2. pii: S0002-9378
Rolnik DL, Wright D, Poon LCY, Nicolaides KH. ASPRE trial: performance of screening for preterm pre-eclampsia. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Oct;50(4):492-495.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists patient information leaflet, Information for you: Pre-eclampsia. RCOG Patient Information Committee, London, UK, Aug 2012.
Roberge et al. (2012) Early administration of low-dose aspirin for the prevention of preterm and term preeclampsia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Fetal Diagn Ther. 2012;31(3):141-6. doi: 10.1159/000336662. Epub 2012 Mar 21.
Bujold et al. (2010) Prevention of preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction with aspirin started in early pregnancy: a meta-analysis. Obstet Gynecol. 2010; 116:402-14.
Advise women at high risk of pre-eclampsia to take 75 mg of aspirin daily from 12 weeks until the birth of the baby. NICE clinical guideline 107. Issued: August 2010 last modified: January 2011.
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