For Future Parents
The majority of women have normal, healthy pregnancies but pre-eclampsia is a common complication, particularly for first-time mothers, those over 40 or with a family history of the illness. First trimester screening, available through your care provider in select countries, can help identify those likely to experience the condition and expedite access to preventative care.
What is Pre-eclampsia?
Pre-eclampsia, or pregnancy induced hypertension, develops after the 20th week of pregnancy and affects approximately 6-8% of pregnancies worldwide. Left untreated, the condition can lead to severe complications in both the mother and her baby. Standard prenatal care typically monitors mothers for the onset of pre-eclampsia’s symptoms but with early screening, care providers can intervene before symptoms develop and prevent or lessen the severity of the illness.
What Are The Symptoms of Pre-eclampsia?
Women suffering from the early stages of pre-eclampsia may experience few or no symptoms. However the condition can progress quickly and if left untreated, evolve into eclampsia, a life-threatening hypertensive disorder characterized by seizures. Women with severe pre-eclampsia may experience swelling or oedema, headaches, nausea and vision changes. Because the only treatment of severe pre-eclampsia is the early delivery of your baby, it is a major contributor to premature birth and the associated risks.
Risk factors of pre-eclampsia can be detected through a screening test early in pregnancy. If the risk of pre-eclampsia is found to be high, treatment to delay or prevent the disease can be started right away.
What Are The Benefits of Early Detection?
Pre-eclampsia cannot be diagnosed before your 20th week of pregnancy and is most commonly caught when symptoms are already apparent, typically after the 32nd week of pregnancy.
By requesting a simple screening test from your care providers, you can learn whether you’re at advanced risk of developing the condition as early as 11 weeks, before any symptoms appear. You may also learn you’re at low risk of developing pre-eclampsia leaving you free to enjoy your pregnancy.
Early detection can lessen the severity of illness or prevent it all together by alerting your care provider that your pregnancy should be closely monitored. Even delaying pre-eclampsia can help to prevent premature birth and give your baby the best possible start in life. Preventative treatments for pre-eclampsia are most effective when started early.
What Does The Test Involve?
Pre-eclampsia screening involves a blood test, measuring your blood pressure and in some instances an ultrasound.
Presently the test is not available in all countries (including the U.S.)