Pre-eclampsia (PE) is a serious pregnancy complication affecting mother and baby. Pre-eclampsia can cause high blood pressure, potential kidney and other organ damage for the mother. It is associated with baby growth restriction, premature births and an increased risk of miscarriage.
Pre-eclampsia affects 2-5% of pregnant women, of whom about 1 in 200 (0.5%) can suffer from severe Pre-eclampsia arising before 34 weeks of pregnancy. Early screening for Pre-eclampsia is important because early intervention (before 14 weeks) can reduce the effects for both you and your baby.
PE screening involves:
- A Specific Blood Test
- Measurement of your blood pressure
- Measurement of your height and weight
- Your medical history
- Doppler ultrasound of the uterine arteries at 12-14 weeks of pregnancy
You will be asked some questions relating to your health and that of your family, as a personal history of high blood pressure or a family history of pre-eclampsia will affect your risk estimate. This information will be combined with ultrasound measurements of blood flow in the arteries supplying your uterus, and some information from the blood test (the PAPP-A and PlGF levels). Using this approach we can identify approximately 75% of women who will develop pre-eclampsia and need delivery before 37 weeks.
If your results indicate that you are at high risk of developing Pre-eclampsia, a simple treatment of low dose aspirin, under the direct care of your doctor, can help prevent the onset of the most severe type of the disease.