New research published in Hypertension has revealed that over 50% of preeclampsia cases occurring between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy could be prevented via timed births, including scheduled inductions or Cesarean deliveries.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, preeclampsia is a dangerous blood pressure condition that develops during gestation– causing blood pressure to rise above 140/90 mmHg. This makes the condition the leading cause of maternal death around the globe.
Preeclampsia impacts one in 25 pregnancies in the U.S. and could be life-threatening. Symptoms include vision changes, headaches, and swelling of the face, eyes, hands, and feet of the mother, as well as health changes in the baby.
The condition is usually diagnosed following 20 weeks of pregnancy and can indicate that women are at a greater risk of developing heart health complications in the long term.
For women who develop preeclampsia between weeks 20 and 26 of pregnancy, preterm delivery might be an option. But, the majority of preeclampsia cases occur between weeks 37 and 42– also known as “at term.”
And while preeclampsia screenings are routine throughout the gestation period, there are still a limited amount of treatment options proven to be effective and safe.
One option, administering low doses of aspirin, does cut down the risk of preterm preeclampsia by more than 50% among at-risk women. But, low aspirin doses do not impact at-term preeclampsia risk– which is three times more common and associated with more significant complications among both mothers and babies.
Timed births, such as Cesarean deliveries and included labor, are also methods widely used for a variety of reasons. But, they are rarely used for at-term preeclampsia intervention– which the researchers believe is a viable application.
“Timed birth is achievable in many hospitals or health centers, so our proposed approach to preventing at-term preeclampsia has huge potential for global good in maternity care,” explained Laura A. Magee, the study’s lead author.