Preeclampsia and Eclampsia

Preeclampsia (pree-i-KLAMP-see-uh) and eclampsia (ih-KLAMP-see-uh) are pregnancy-related high blood pressure disorders. In preeclampsia, the mother’s high blood pressure reduces the blood supply to the fetus, which may get less oxygen and fewer nutrients. Eclampsia is when pregnant women with preeclampsia develop seizures or coma. NICHD and other agencies are working to understand what causes these conditions and how they can be prevented and better treated.

About Preeclampsia and Eclampsia

Preeclampsia and eclampsia are part of the spectrum of high blood pressure, or hypertensive, disorders that can occur during pregnancy.

At the mild end of the spectrum is gestational hypertension, which occurs when a woman who previously had normal blood pressure develops high blood pressure when she is more than 20 weeks pregnant and her blood pressure returns to normal within 12 weeks after delivery. This problem usually occurs without other symptoms. In many cases, gestational hypertension does not harm the mother or fetus. Severe gestational hypertension, however, may be associated with preterm birth and infants who are small for their age at birth.1 Some women who have gestational hypertension later develop preeclampsia.2,3,4

Preeclampsia is similar to gestational hypertension because it also involves high blood pressure at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy in a woman whose blood pressure was normal before pregnancy. But preeclampsia can also include blood pressure at or greater than 140/90 mmHg, increased swelling, and protein in the urine.5,6 The condition can be serious and is a leading cause of preterm birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy).7 If it is severe enough to affect brain function, causing seizures or coma, it is called eclampsia.

A serious complication of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy is HELLP syndrome, a situation in which a pregnant woman with preeclampsia or eclampsia suffers damage to the liver and blood cells. The letters in the name HELLP stand for the following problems:

  • H - Hemolysis, in which oxygen-carrying red blood cells break down
  • EL - Elevated Liver enzymes, showing damage to the liver
  • LP - Low Platelet count, meaning that the cells responsible for stopping bleeding are low

Postpartum preeclampsia describes preeclampsia that develops after the baby is delivered, usually between 48 hours and 6 weeks after delivery.8 Symptoms can include high blood pressure, severe headache, visual changes, upper abdominal pain, and nausea or vomiting.5,6  Postpartum preeclampsia can occur regardless of whether a woman had high blood pressure or preeclampsia during pregnancy.9

Postpartum eclampsia refers to seizures that occur between 48 and 72 hours after delivery. Symptoms also include high blood pressure and difficulty breathing.5,6  About one-third of eclampsia cases occur after delivery, and nearly half of those are more than 48 hours after the birth.10

Postpartum preeclampsia and eclampsia can be serious and, if not treated quickly, may result in death.11 Visit the Preeclampsia Foundation website for more information: https://www.preeclampsia.org/stillatrisk .

Citations

  1. Roberts, J. M., Bodnar, L. M., Lain, K. Y., Hubel, C. A., Markovic, N., Ness, R. B., & Powers, R. W. (2005). Uric acid is as important as proteinuria in identifying fetal risk in women with gestational hypertension. Hypertension, 46(6), 1263–1269. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16246973
  2. Barton, J. R., O’Brien, J. M., Bergauer, N. K., Jacques, D. L., & Sibai, B. M. (2001). Mild gestational hypertension remote from term: Progression and outcome. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 184(5), 979–983. Retrieved November 6, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11303208
  3. Davis, G. K., Mackenzie, C., Brown, M. A., Homer, C. S., Holt, J., McHugh, L., & Mangos, G. (2007). Predicting transformation from gestational hypertension to preeclampsia in clinical practice: A possible role for 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. Hypertension in Pregnancy, 26(1), 77–87. Retrieved November 6, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17454220
  4. Leeman, L., Dresang, L. T., & Fontaine, P. (2016). Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. American Family Physician, 93(2), 121–127. Retrieved November 6, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26926408
  5. ACOG Committee on Practice Bulletins, Obstetrics. (2020). Gestational Hypertension and Preeclampsia: ACOG Practice Bulletin Number 222 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32443079/ 
  6. ACOG Committee on Practice Bulletins, Obstetrics. (2019). Chronic Hypertension in Pregnancy: ACOG Practice Bulletin Number 203 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30575676/ 
  7. Goldenberg, R. L., Culhane, J. F., Iams, J. D., & Romero, R. (2008). Epidemiology and causes of preterm birth. The Lancet, 371(9606), 75–84. Retrieved December 13, 2016, from http://www.thelancetnorway.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(08)60074-4/fulltext 
  8. Bigelow, C. A., Pereira, G. A., Warmsley, A., Cohen, J., Getrajdman, C., Moshier, E., Paris, J., Bianco, A., Factor, S. H., & Stone, J. (2014). Risk factors for new-onset late postpartum preeclampsia in women without a history of preeclampsia. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 210(4), 338.e1–338.e8. Retrieved October 22, 2018, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002937813019984?via%3Dihub 
  9. Skurnik, G., Hurwitz, S., McElrath, T. F., Tsen, L. C., Duey, S., Saxena, A. R., Karumanchi, A., Rich-Edwards, J. W., & Seely, E. W. (2017). Labor therapeutics and BMI as risk factors for postpartum preeclampsia: A case-control study. Pregnancy Hypertension, 10, 177–181. Retrieved October 22, 2018, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2210778917300442?via%3Dihub#b0075 
  10. Cairns, A. E., Pealing, L., Duffy, J. M. N., Roberts, N., Tucker, K. L., Leeson, P., MacKillop, L. H., & McManus, R. J. (2017). Postpartum management of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy: A systematic review. BMJ Open, 7(11), e018696. Retrieved September 11, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5719299/
  11. ACOG. (2017). Committee Opinion 692: Emergent therapy for acute-onset, severe hypertension during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Retrieved October 22, 2018, from https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Emergent-Therapy-for-Acute-Onset-Severe-Hypertension-During-Pregnancy-and-the-Postpartum-Period?IsMobileSet=false 

What causes preeclampsia and eclampsia?

The causes of preeclampsia and eclampsia are not known. These disorders previously were believed to be caused by a toxin, called “toxemia,” in the blood, but health care providers now know that is not true. Nevertheless, preeclampsia is sometimes still referred to as “toxemia.”

To learn more about preeclampsia and eclampsia, scientists are investigating many factors that could contribute to the development and progression of these diseases, including:

  • Placental abnormalities, such as insufficient blood flow
  • Genetic factors
  • Environmental exposures
  • Nutritional factors
  • Maternal immunology and autoimmune disorders
  • Cardiovascular and inflammatory changes
  • Hormonal imbalances

What are the risks of preeclampsia & eclampsia to the mother?

Citations

  1. Sibai, B. M. (2004). Magnesium sulfate prophylaxis in preeclampsia: Lessons learned from recent trials. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 190(6), 1520–1526. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15284724
  2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2016). The epilepsies and seizures: Hope through research. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Epilepsies-and-Seizures-Hope-Through
  3. Preeclampsia Foundation. (2018). FAQs. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.preeclampsia.org/health-information/faqs 
  4. Lim, K.-H., Steinberg, G., & Ramus, R. M. (2018). Preeclampsia. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1476919-overview 
  5. Bellamy, L., Casas, J. P., Hingorani, A. D., & Williams, D. J. (2007). Pre-eclampsia and risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer in later life: Systematic review and meta-analysis. British Medical Journal, 335(7627), 974. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17975258
  6. Smith, M., Waugh, J., & Nelson-Piercy, C. (2013). Management of postpartum hypertension. The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, 15(1), 45–50. Retrieved December 28, 2016, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1744-4667.2012.00144.x/pdf  (PDF 561 KB)
  7. ACOG Committee on Practice Bulletins, Obstetrics. (2020). Gestational Hypertension and Preeclampsia: ACOG Practice Bulletin Number 222 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32443079/
  8. ACOG Committee on Practice Bulletins, Obstetrics. (2019). Chronic Hypertension in Pregnancy: ACOG Practice Bulletin Number 203 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30575676/
  9. Yancey, L. M., Withers, E., Bakes, K., & Abbott, J. (2011). Postpartum preeclampsia: Emergency department presentation and management. Journal of Emergency Medicine, 40(4), 380–384. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18814997
  10. Andrus, S. S., & Wolfson, A. B. (2010). Postpartum preeclampsia occurring after resolution of antepartum preeclampsia. Journal of Emergency Medicine, 38(2), 168–170. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18547773

What are the risks of preeclampsia & eclampsia to the fetus?

Preeclampsia may be related to problems with the placenta early in the pregnancy.1 Such problems pose risks to the fetus, including:

  • Lack of oxygen and nutrients, which can impair fetal growth
  • Preterm birth
  • Stillbirth if placental abruption (separation of the placenta from the uterine wall) leads to heavy bleeding in the mother
  • Infant death (Visit the Preeclampsia Foundation for current figures) external link

Stillbirths are more likely to occur when the mother has a more severe form of preeclampsia, including HELLP syndrome.

Infants whose mothers had preeclampsia are also at increased risk for later problems, even if they were born at full term (39 weeks of pregnancy).3 Infants born preterm due to preeclampsia face a higher risk of some long-term health issues, mostly related to being born early, including learning disorders, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, deafness, and blindness. Infants born preterm may also have to be hospitalized for a long time after birth and may be smaller than infants born full term. Infants who experienced poor growth in the uterus may later be at higher risk of diabetes, congestive heart failure, and high blood pressure.4

Citations

  1. Kaufmann, P., Black, S., & Huppertz, B. (2003). Endovascular trophoblast invasion: Implications for the pathogenesis of intrauterine growth retardation and preeclampsia. Biology of Reproduction,69(1), 1–7. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12620937
  2. Preeclampsia Foundation. (2013). FAQs. Retrieved June 7, 2016, from https://www.preeclampsia.org/health-information/faqs external link
  3. Mendola, P., Mumford, S. L., Männistö, T. I., Holston, A., Reddy, U. M., & Laughon, S. K. (2015). Controlled direct effects of preeclampsia on neonatal health after accounting for mediation by preterm birth. Epidemiology, 26(1), 17–26. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25437315
  4. Cosmi, E., Fanelli, T., Visentin, S., Trevisanuto, D., & Zanardo, V. (2011). Consequences in infants that were intrauterine growth restricted. Journal of Pregnancy. Retrieved June 7, 2016, from http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jp/2011/364381/cta external link

Who is at risk of preeclampsia?

Although preeclampsia occurs primarily in first pregnancies, a woman who had preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy is seven times more likely to develop preeclampsia in a later pregnancy.5

Other factors that can increase a woman's risk include:5

  • Chronic high blood pressure or kidney disease before pregnancy
  • High blood pressure or preeclampsia in an earlier pregnancy
  • Obesity. Overweight or obese women are also more likely to have preeclampsia in more than one pregnancy.6
  • Age. Women older than 40 are at higher risk.
  • Multiple gestation (being pregnant with more than one fetus)
  • African American ethnicity. Also, among women who have had preeclampsia before, non-white women are more likely than white women to develop preeclampsia again in a later pregnancy.6
  • Family history of preeclampsia. According to the World Health Organization, among women who have had preeclampsia, about 20% to 40% of their daughters and 11% to 37% of their sisters also will get the disorder.7

Preeclampsia is also more common among women who have histories of certain health conditions, such as migraines,8 diabetes,9 rheumatoid arthritis,10 lupus,11 scleroderma,12 urinary tract infections,13 gum disease,14 polycystic ovary syndrome,15 multiple sclerosis, gestational diabetes, and sickle cell disease.16

Preeclampsia is also more common in pregnancies resulting from egg donation, donor insemination, or in vitro fertilization.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends that women who are at high risk for preeclampsia take low-dose aspirin starting after 12 weeks of pregnancy to prevent preeclampsia.17 Women who are pregnant or who are thinking about getting pregnant should talk with their health care provider about preeclampsia risk and ways to reduce the risk.

Citations

  1. Duley, L. (2009). The global impact of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. Seminars in Perinatology, 33(3), 130–137. Retrieved June 23, 2016, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0146000509000214 external link
  2. Ananth, C. V., Keyes, K. M., & Wapner, R.J. (2013). Pre-eclampsia rates in the United States, 1980-2010: Age-period-cohort analysis. British Medical Journal, 347, f6564. Retrieved June 23, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3898425
  3. Ngoc, N. T., Merialdi, M., Abdel-Aleem, H., Carroli, G., Purwar, M., Zavaleta, N., et al. (2006). Causes of stillbirths and early neonatal deaths: Data from 7993 pregnancies in six developing countries. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 84(9), 699–705. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2627466
  4. Haram, K., Svendsen, E., & Abildgaard, U. (2009). The HELLP syndrome: Clinical issues and management. A review. BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, 9, 8. Retrieved June 6, 2016 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2654858/
  5. Duckitt, K., & Harrington, D. (2005). Risk factors for pre-eclampsia at antenatal booking: Systematic review of controlled studies. British Medical Journal,330(7491), 565. Retrieved December 30, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC554027/
  6. Boghossian, N. S., Yeung, E., Mendola, P., Hinkle, S. N., Laughon, S. K., Zhang, C., & Albert, P. S. (2014). Risk factors differ between recurrent and incident preeclampsia: A hospital-based cohort study. Annals of Epidemiology,24(12), 871–877e3. Retrieved December 13, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4355246
  7. Lim, K.-H., Steinberg, G., & Ramus, R. M. (2016). Preeclampsia. Retrieved June 6, 2016, from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1476919-overview external link
  8. Sanchez, S. E., Qiu, C., Williams, M. A., Lam, N., & Sorensen, T. K. (2008). Headaches and migraines are associated with an increased risk of preeclampsia in Peruvian women. American Journal of Hypertension, 21(3), 360–364.
  9. Rosenberg, T. J., Garbers, S., Lipkind, H., & Chiasson, M. A. (2005). Maternal obesity and diabetes as risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes: Differences among 4 racial/ethnic groups. American Journal of Public Health, 95(9), 1545–1551.
  10. Lin, H. C., Chen, S. F., Lin, H. C., & Chen, Y. H. (2010). Increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes in women with rheumatoid arthritis: A nationwide population-based study. Annals of the Rheumatic Disease, 69, 715–717.
  11. Clowse, M. E. B. (2007). Lupus activity in pregnancy. Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America, 33, 237.
  12. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (n.d.). High blood pressure in pregnancy. Retrieved June 6, 2016, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/guidelines/hbp_preg_archive.pdf (PDF 250 KB)
  13. Conde-Agudelo, A., Villar, J., & Lindheimer, M. (2008). Maternal infection and risk of preeclampsia: Systematic review and metaanalysis. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 198(1), 7–22.
  14. Sibai, B. M. (2012). Hypertension. In S. G. Gabbe, J. R. Niebyl, J. L. Simpson, M. B. Landon, H. L. Galan, E. R. M. Jauniaux, & D. A. Driscoll (Eds.), Obstetrics: Normal and problem pregnancies (6th ed., pp. 631–666). Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.
  15. Veltman-Verhulst, S. M., van Rijn, B. B., Westerveld, H. E., Franx, A., Bruinse, H. W., Fauser, B. C., et al. (2010). Polycystic ovary syndrome and early-onset preeclampsia: Reproductive manifestations of increased cardiovascular risk. Menopause, 17(5), 990–996.
  16. Preeclampsia Foundation. (2013). FAQs. Retrieved June 6, 2016, from https://www.preeclampsia.org/health-information/faqs external link
  17. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. (2015). Low-dose aspirin use for the prevention of morbidity and mortality from preeclampsia: Recommendation statement. American Family Physician, 91(5). Retrieved August 8, 2016, from http://www.aafp.org/afp/2015/0301/od1.html external link

What are the symptoms of preeclampsia, eclampsia, & HELLP syndrome?

Citations

  1. Sibai, B. M. (2012). Hypertension. In S. G. Gabbe, J. R. Niebyl, J. L. Simpson, & M. B. Landon (Eds.), Obstetrics: Normal and problem pregnancies (6th ed.). Philadelphia: Saunders.

How do health care providers diagnose preeclampsia, eclampsia, and HELLP syndrome?

A health care provider will check a pregnant woman's blood pressure and urine during each prenatal visit. If the blood pressure reading is considered high (140/90 or higher), especially after the 20th week of pregnancy, the health care provider will likely perform blood tests and more extensive lab tests to look for extra protein in the urine (called proteinuria) as well as other symptoms.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists provides the following criteria for a diagnosis of gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, eclampsia, and HELLP syndrome.

Gestational hypertension is diagnosed if a pregnant woman has high blood pressure but no protein in the urine. Gestational hypertension occurs when women whose blood pressure levels were normal before pregnancy develop high blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Gestational hypertension can progress into preeclampsia.1

Mild preeclampsia is diagnosed when a pregnant woman has:2,3

  • Systolic blood pressure (top number) of 140 mmHg or higher or diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) of 90 mmHg or higher and either
    • Urine with 0.3 or more grams of protein in a 24-hour specimen (a collection of every drop of urine within 24 hours) or a protein-to-creatinine ratio greater than 0.3 
      or
    • Blood tests that show kidney or liver dysfunction
    • Fluid in the lungs and difficulty breathing
    • Visual impairments

Severe preeclampsia occurs when a pregnant woman has any of the following:

  • Systolic blood pressure of 160 mmHg or higher or diastolic blood pressure of 110 mmHg or higher on two occasions at least 4 hours apart while the patient is on bed rest
  • Urine with 5 or more grams of protein in a 24-hour specimen or 3 or more grams of protein on 2 random urine samples collected at least 4 hours apart
  • Test results suggesting kidney or liver damage—for example, blood tests that reveal low numbers of platelets or high liver enzymes
  • Severe, unexplained stomach pain that does not respond to medication
  • Symptoms that include visual disturbances, difficulty breathing, or fluid buildup4

Eclampsia occurs when women with preeclampsia develop seizures. The seizures can happen before or during labor or after the baby is delivered. 

HELLP syndrome is diagnosed when laboratory tests show hemolysis (burst red blood cells release hemoglobin into the blood plasma), elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets. There also may or may not be extra protein in the urine.5

Some women may also be diagnosed with superimposed preeclampsia—a situation in which the woman develops preeclampsia on top of high blood pressure that was present before she got pregnant. Health care providers look for an increase in blood pressure and either protein in the urine, fluid buildup, or both for a diagnosis of superimposed preeclampsia.

In addition to tests that might diagnose preeclampsia or similar problems, health care providers may do other tests to assess the health of the mother and fetus, including:

  • Blood tests to see how well the mother's liver and kidneys are working
  • Blood tests to check blood platelet levels to see how well the mother's blood is clotting
  • Blood tests to count the total number of red blood cells in the mother's blood
  • A maternal weight check
  • An ultrasound to assess the fetus's size
  • A check of the fetus's heart rate
  • A physical exam to look for swelling in the mother's face, hands, or legs as well as abdominal tenderness or an enlarged liver

Citations

  1. Saudan, P., Brown, M. A., Buddle, M. L., Jones, M. (1998). Does gestational hypertension become pre-eclampsia? British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 105(11), 1177–1184.
  2. ACOG Committee on Practice Bulletins, Obstetrics. (2020). Gestational Hypertension and Preeclampsia: ACOG Practice Bulletin Number 222 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32443079/
  3. ACOG Committee on Practice Bulletins, Obstetrics. (2019). Chronic Hypertension in Pregnancy: ACOG Practice Bulletin Number 203 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30575676/
  4. Sibai, B. M. (2012). Hypertension. In S. G. Gabbe, J. R. Niebyl, J. L. Simpson, M. B. Landon, H. L. Galan, E. R. M. Jauniaux, & D. A. Driscoll (Eds.), Obstetrics: Normal and problem pregnancies (6th ed., pp. 631–666). Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.
  5. Haram, K., Svendsen, E., & Abildgaard, U. (2009). The HELLP syndrome: Clinical issues and management. A review. BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, 9, 8. Retrieved June 6, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2654858/ external link

What are the treatments for preeclampsia, eclampsia, & HELLP syndrome?

Delivering the fetus can help resolve preeclampsia and eclampsia, but symptoms can continue even after delivery, and some of them can be serious.

Treatment decisions for preeclampsia, eclampsia, and HELLP syndrome need to take into account how severe the condition is, the potential for maternal complications, how far along the pregnancy is, and the potential risks to the fetus. Ideally, the healthcare provider will minimize risks to the mother while giving the fetus as much time as possible to mature before delivery.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women at high risk for preeclampsia take low-dose aspirin starting after 12 weeks of pregnancy to prevent the condition from occurring.1

Citations

  1. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. (2015). Low-dose aspirin use for the prevention of morbidity and mortality from preeclampsia: Recommendation statement. American Family Physician, 91(5). Retrieved August 8, 2016, from http://www.aafp.org/afp/2015/0301/od1.html external link
  2. March of Dimes. (2013). Premature babies. Retrieved June 6, 2016, from http://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/premature-babies.aspx external link
  3. Sibai, B. M. (2012). Hypertension. In S. G. Gabbe, J. R. Niebyl, J. L. Simpson, M. B. Landon, H. L. Galan, E. R. M. Jauniaux, & D. A. Driscoll (Eds.), Obstetrics: Normal and problem pregnancies (6th ed., pp. 631–666). Philadelphia, PA: W. B. Saunders.
  4. Haram, K., Svendsen, E., & Abildgaard, U. (2009). The HELLP syndrome: Clinical issues and management. A review. BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, 9, 8. Retrieved June 6, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2654858/
  5. Leeman, L., Dresang, L. T., & Fontaine, P. (2016). Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. American Family Physician, 93(2), 121–127. Retrieved November 15, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26926408
  6. Yancey, L. M., Withers, E., Bakes, K., & Abbott, J. (2011). Postpartum preeclampsia: Emergency department presentation and management. Journal of Emergency Medicine, 40(4), 380–384. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18814997

NICHD Preeclampsia and Eclampsia Research Goals

Advances in understanding preeclampsia and eclampsia and the complications they cause contribute directly to NICHD’s mission.

Complications of preeclampsia, such as kidney failure, hemorrhage, and stroke, can lead to lasting health problems. Worldwide, preeclampsia is one of the leading causes of maternal death. NICHD aims to maintain a global perspective while pursuing a better understanding of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy to prevent the poor health outcomes and deaths caused by this condition.

NICHD research addresses:

  • Factors that influence the growth of blood vessels in pregnancy
  • Mechanisms and functions of the placenta and any problems with the placenta
  • Genetic factors affecting blood pressure during pregnancy
  • Proteins and other elements in the blood that may signal the onset of preeclampsia
  • The role of factors such as obesity and genetics in the development of preeclampsia
  • Characteristics and factors that cause or contribute to the progression of preeclampsia to eclampsia
  • Preventive measures
  • Long-term effects of preeclampsia, eclampsia, and HELLP syndrome on the mother’s health and on the health of the infant

Preeclampsia and Eclampsia Research Activities and Advances

Citations

  1. LeFevre, M. L. (2014). Low-dose aspirin use for the prevention of morbidity and mortality from preeclampsia: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Annals of Internal Medicine, 161(11), 819–826. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from http://annals.org/aim/article/1902275/low-dose-aspirin-use-prevention-morbidity-mortality-from-preeclampsia-u external link
  2. Roberts, J. M., Myatt, L., Spong, C. Y., Thom, E. A., Hauth, J. C., Leveno, K. J., et al.; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network. (2010). Vitamins C and E to prevent complications of pregnancy-associated hypertension. New England Journal of Medicine, 362(14), 1282–1291.
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