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Pre-Eclampsia

Pre-Eclampsia Management
During Your Pregnancy

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.

pre-eclampsia

10+ million

Women around the world develop pre-eclampsia annually

pre-term-births

2.5+ million

Pre-term births are caused by pre-eclampsia each year

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76,000 women

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.

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How can this condition affect me?

When pre-eclampsia develops, not enough blood flows from the placenta to your baby. Your blood pressure may become elevated and protein in the urine may be present. All pregnancies have a small chance for pre-eclampsia regardless of maternal age, family history, or personal health. Early screening for pre-eclampsia is the best way to find out if pre-eclampsia can affect your pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia screening tells you if you are at risk of developing pre-eclampsia. The earlier you know, the faster the treatment can be started to delay or reduce the risk of the disease progressing.

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How can this condition affect my baby?

Pre-eclampsia affects the blood flow from the placenta to your baby, which can affect the baby’s normal growth and development. Still, some babies are developing welleven though their mother has severe pre-eclampsia. In this case, medical personnel will carefully monitor the baby to ensure that they receive enough food, nutrients and oxygen from your blood to keep growing in your belly.

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Be Alert for Symptoms

The signs of pre-eclampsia usually start from week 20 onwards and can be very unspecific – they can resemble normal pregnancy related symptoms, such as swelling, high blood pressure and nausea.  In the early stages of the disease especially, women with pre-eclampsia do not necessarily feel bad. But pre-eclampsia can progress very rapidly, and some women can become more seriously ill with eclampsia.

Since the main cause of pre-eclampsia is the placenta, premature delivery might be required. Your doctor may decide to induce your labor or deliver via caesarean section if the health of you or your child requires it. The health of most women begins to improve soon after delivery.

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FAQs

Read our Frequently Asked Questions about pre-eclampsia.

FAQs

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. 

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Get Expert Guidance from your Doctor

Screening programs, the kinds of disorders screened for, and access to newer testing methodologies vary in each part of the world, and even across states and regions within a single country. Talk to your doctor to find out about the options available to you.

Further Reading

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.

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Our Mission

PerkinElmer believes passionately about protecting and helping parents. Sure, we have a bunch of information for scientists, but here, you can find information for parents.

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References

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.

Disclaimer

PerkinElmer does not endorse or make recommendations with respect to research, medication, or treatments. All information presented is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For country specific recommendations please consult your local health care professionals.

Products may not be licensed in accordance with the laws in all countries, such as the United States and Canada.  Please check with your local representative for availability.

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