Traditionally, patients at risk of pre-eclampsia are required to attend maternity clinics two-to-three times a week to assess their blood pressure and urine results.
Frequent hospital visits causes anxiety for pregnant women and their families, often leads to ‘white coat’ hypertensive readings and significant cost implications for the NHS and patient.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition that affects some pregnant women, usually during the second half of pregnancy (from around 20 weeks) or soon after their baby is delivered.
Early signs of pre-eclampsia include having high blood pressure (hypertension) and protein in your urine (proteinuria). It’s unlikely that you’ll notice these signs, but they should be picked up during your routine antenatal appointments.
- Swelling of the feet ankles, face and hands caused by fluid retention (oedema)
- Severe headache
- Vision problems
- Pain just below the ribs
- Fetal growth restriction
- Acute renal or hepatic failure
Mild pre-eclampsia affects up to 6% of pregnancies, and severe cases develop in about 1-2% of pregnancies.
There are a number of things that can increase your chances of developing pre-eclampsia, such as:
- Having diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease before starting pregnancy
- Having another condition, such as lupus or antiphospholipid syndrome
- Having developed the condition during a previous pregnancy
What causes pre-eclampsia?
Although the exact cause of pre-eclampsia isn’t known, it’s thought to occur when there’s a problem with the placenta (the organ that links the baby’s blood supply to the mother’s).