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
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
- The PARROT trial is looking at whether a simple test for placental growth factor can identify women at risk of severe complications from pre-eclampsia
- The CRADLE project is developing an easy, cheap way to measure blood pressure, helping to detect pre-eclampsia anywhere in the world
- The PHOENIX trial is researching the best course of action when pre-eclampsia develops before the baby is due
- UV light could be used to help lower blood pressure and prevent pre-eclampsia
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:
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.
See more of our pre-eclampsia research
Rob is an engineer and lives in Northampton with his wife Kate and their daughter Elsie. In this blog, he reflects on coping with the death of son Theo and how this loss has changed him.
'You have severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome, we are going to have to deliver your baby tonight.'
Lynsey and Mark Bell’s baby Rory was born sleeping after she suffered severe pre-eclampsia.
I was 25 weeks pregnant and my story, like many others, starts with a routine appointment with the midwife. Until she asked me to pop back the week after and just get my blood pressure checked again.