World Pre-eclampsia Day 2019

Today we highlight our support for the worldwide initiative to raise awareness of pre-eclampsia and its global impact on the lives of mothers, babies and families.

Tommy's news, 22/05/2019

Today on World Pre-eclampsia Day, we lend our voice to the worldwide initiative to raise awareness of pre-eclampsia and the impact it has on up to 6% of pregnancies in the UK and 2-8%of pregnancies globally

Pre-eclampsia is a condition that only occurs in pregnancy - typically after 20 weeks - and affects 2-8 in 100 women. It is diagnosed through a combination of hypertension (raised blood pressure) and proteinuria in pregnancy (the presence of protein in your urine). If left untreated, pre-eclampsia can be dangerous for both the mother and baby.

We support all efforts that:

  • Encourage additional research funding into pre-eclampsia and related disorders
  • Prioritise patient and community education and treatment for these disorders
  • Prioritise education, training, and access to medical resources for healthcare providers
  • Address prevention through a better understanding of the causes and through access to appropriate, safe, and effective treatments

There is currently no cure for pre-eclampsia. Delivering the baby is the only ‘cure,’ which is why it is a major cause of preterm birth.

How Tommy's is working to change this

The causes of pre-eclampsia aren’t fully understood – we think it is related to the placenta not attaching properly to the wall of the womb.

We need research to find out why it happens, so we can work to prevent it. That’s why Tommy’s funds pioneering research into the causes of pre-eclampsia, and the best ways of identifying and caring for women at risk.

Recent research highlights

Blood pressure

Spotlight on: The CRADLE device 

Measuring a mother’s blood pressure and pulse during pregnancy is vital to detect life-threatening conditions, as indicators such as dangerously high blood pressure is a sign of complications such as pre-eclampsia. However, these signs are often missed in areas where there isn’t enough pregnancy related care, or knowledge of how to measure blood pressure properly. This can result in deaths that can be avoided.

This is why we have collaborated with Microlife Ltd to create the CRADLE device, which provides an accurate and easy way to measure blood pressure and detect pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia, anywhere in the world. Professor Andy Shennan, along with his colleague Professor Shivaprasad Goudar, was awarded the 2017 Newton Prize for their work on the life-saving blood pressure monitoring device.

Professor Shennan said:

To be able to impact on care in those parts of the world where it is desperately needed has been our most fulfilling research experience. Tommy’s has always supported research into pre-eclampsia and has been behind many of the advances that women are now benefiting from. We have new tests to help us both manage and improve outcomes for women. The UK is the safest place in the world to have pre-eclampsia but we still need to find a cure.

The CRADLE device is just one of the many ways we are working to improve the diagnosis and treatment of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. You can find all our current research on pre-eclampsia here.

Am I at risk of developing pre-eclampsia?

As we don’t know the exact causes of pre-eclampsia, it’s hard to predict who will develop it during pregnancy and who won’t. However, you are considered at greater risk if:

  • This is your first pregnancy/your first pregnancy with a new partner/first pregnancy in 10 years
  • You’re aged 40 or over
  • You, your mother or sister have already had pre-eclampsia during pregnancy
  • You have a BMI (body mass index) of 35 or more/you weigh 90 kg or more
  • You are having a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets or more)
  • You have a medical problem such as high blood pressure, kidney problems and/or diabetes.

There is also some evidence that women who become pregnant from egg donation are more susceptible to pre-eclampsia. Find out more below: 

Pre-eclampsia - information and support 

Get our research updates

Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for pregnancy complications and loss. We can keep you updated on our research news.  If you're interested in being kept updated about our research and news from Tommy's, click here.