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.