Preeclampsia is a serious condition in pregnancy which can affect up to 5% of pregnant women. It is characterised by high blood pressure but it can also affect other organs such as the liver and kidneys. It can cause reduced growth of the baby and if severe can result in preterm delivery. Typically preeclampsia occurs in the second half of pregnancy and is picked up by a mother having elevated blood pressure at her routine antenatal visit.
What is Preeclampsia Screening?
A new preeclampsia screening test is now available to all pregnant women. It is performed at the time of the nuchal translucency ultrasound between 11 and 14 weeks gestation. This test aims to identify women who are at high risk for developing severe preeclampsia.
The screening test combines some maternal characteristics (obtained through a questionnaire at the time of the ultrasound), a blood test which is performed routinely at the time of Down syndrome screening, blood pressure readings and from an ultrasound measurement of blood flow to the uterus. These parameter are combined and together can detect up to 80% of women who will develop severe preeclampsia which results in a preterm delivery.
Why Screen for Pre-eclampsia?
Screening for preeclampsia is a simple way to identify women at high risk for developing early onset preeclampsia. Early detection and treatment may protect your baby and lead to major health benefits for both mothers and babies. The treatment will be prescribed by your obstetrician but is a simple low dose of aspirin which is safe in pregnancy and if started before 16 weeks gestation can reduce the risk of developing severe preeclampsia by 60%.
More frequent monitoring of both the mother and baby will also occur if the preeclamspsia screening result is high risk.
If you have a low risk result you are unlikely to deliver your baby prematurely from preeclampsia. It does not completely eliminate the possibility that you will develop preeclampsia, therefore blood pressure monitoring will be continued as normal with your pregnancy care.
The Importance of Comprehensive Care
At O&G we believe this is a very important part of early pregnancy care to optimise the outcome of your pregnancy. There will be no additional cost for preeclampsia screening at O&G at the time of your routine nuchal translucency ultrasound.