Vol 83, No 9 (2012)

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Modern methods of early screening for preeclampsia and pregnancy-induced hypertension – a review

Grzegorz Poprawski, Ewa Wender-Ożegowska, Agnieszka Zawiejska, Jacek Brązert
Ginekol Pol 2012;83(9).


Preeclampsia remains to be a serious perinatal complication and early screening for this disease to identify the high risk population before the first symptoms develop constitutes a considerable clinical challenge. Modern methods of screening for preeclampsia and pregnancy-induced hypertension include patients history, biochemical serum markers and foetal DNA and RNA in maternal serum. They aid the process of developing an optimal protocol to initiate treatment in early pregnancy and to reduce the rate of complications. Our review presents an overview of the novel methods and techniques used for early screening for preeclampsia and pregnancy-induced hypertension. Most of the research focuses on 11-13 weeks of gestation due to the fact that the first prenatal examination is performed at that time. The most important information seems to be: weight, mass, mean blood pressure, history of pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia at previous pregnancies as well as the ethnic origin. During an ultrasound scan, pulsatility index of the uterine arteries is measured. Blood samples are obtained during the last part of the examination. At the moment only a few markers seem to be strong predictors of hypertensive disorders during pregnancy: pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A), placental growth factor (PlGF) and soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt-1). Also, fetal DNA and RNA in maternal plasma are helpful in the prediction of preeclampsia as they are markers of the trophoblast apoptosis. Researchers aim at identifying the population at high risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia in order to offer appropriate antenatal care to these women. At the moment many drugs and diet supplements are investigated to reduce the prevalence of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. These medications are usually administrated in early gestation (up to 16 week of gestation) before the first clinical symptoms present. Low doses of aspirin were found to decrease the risk of preeclampsia in high-risk groups. Moreover, according to some recent research, also essential Ω-3 fatty acids reduce the incidence of preeclampsia. None of the other investigated diet supplements or antioxidants were proven to successfully reduce incidents of hypertensive disorders. So far, there is available evidence on the lack of any effect for vitamins C,D or E. Further studies are necessary to define clinical useful markers of gestational hypertension.

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