Pregnancy news, 22/05/2019
Today, on World Pre-eclampsia Day, Tommy’s is giving our support 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% globally. If left untreated, pre-eclampsia can be dangerous for both the mother and baby.
What is pre-eclampsia?
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). There is currently no cure for pre-eclampsia. Delivering the baby is the only ‘cure,’ which is why it is a major cause of premature birth.
What causes pre-eclampsia?
The exact cause of pre-eclampsia is not known and more research is needed. However, it’s thought that there is a link between pre-eclampsia and problems with the placenta.
What are the signs of pre-eclampsia?
Women with mild pre-eclampsia may not show any symptoms, and it is usually only discovered during routine antenatal appointments (through standard blood pressure checks and urine samples).
If the condition gets more severe, various pre-eclampsia symptoms can develop, including:
- severe headache that doesn’t go away with simple painkillers
- problems with vision, such as blurring or flashing before the eyes
- severe pain just below the ribs
- nausea or vomiting
- heartburn that doesn’t go away with antacids
- rapidly increasing swelling of the face, hands or feet (for example if your watch or rings suddenly don't fit)
- feeling very unwell.
These symptoms are serious, and you should seek medical help immediately.
What is Tommy’s doing to help?
We need research to find out why pre-eclampsia 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 finding and caring for women at risk.
We help fund several research projects, including:
- the PARROT trial, which is looking at whether a simple test for placental growth factor can identify women at risk of severe complications from pre-eclampsia
- the CRADLE device project, which looked at developing an easy, cheap way to measure blood pressure, helping to detect pre-eclampsia anywhere in the world
- UV light research project, which looked at how UV light during pregnancy could be used to help lower blood pressure and prevent pre-eclampsia.
The problem of premature birth in the UK needs to be addressed. Too many parents are currently enduring this anxious experience that can have a lasting impact.
Get our free app for parents of premature babies. It is the first of its kind in the UK. 'My Premature Baby' is available on all devices (phones, tablets).
A 'premature' or 'preterm' baby is one that is born before 37 weeks. If your baby is born early they may need special care as they may not be fully developed.