A team lead by Dr. Anne Monique Nuyt, a neonatal specialist and researcher at the Sainte-Justine Mother and Child University Hospital Center and University of Montreal, reported in the September 2012 Canadian Medical Association Journal that women who were born prematurely are more likely to have pregnancy complications than women who weren't. Their study is the first to clearly show the impact of preterm birth (i.e., before 37 weeks of gestation) itself on pregnancy risks. They examined the data from all women born preterm between 1976 and 1995 and who had delivered at least one infant between 1987 and 2008.
"We took all women born preterm and selected twice as many 'at-term' women as representative controls for this study," Nuyt explained. There were 7,405 women in the born preterm group ...
BY CARYN ROGERS, SCIENCE WRITER
Preeclampsia's subtle symptoms share so many commonalities with other conditions that a diagnosis can be delayed or missed. The Preeclampsia Foundation advocates for what is known as "translational" work on new screening and diagnostic tests, which attempts to quickly turn basic bench research into bedside applications. In December, the Preeclampsia Foundation's Executive Director, Eleni Tsigas, sent a video message of support for an Irish research team's bid for a grant to fund a research center. Now a substantial new funding announcement has been made.
The Science Foundation of Ireland
Posted in Research on September 30, 2012 by Administrator
Principal Investigator Nihar R. Nayak, DVM, PhD, Stanford University, recently reported successful progress in his efforts to better understand the role of certain placental proteins in the development of preeclampsia. His 2011 Vision Grant research project aimed to see how proteins act in the placenta during preeclampsia. In Nayak's multi-stage investigation, he first needed to develop a new method using a mouse model system to study the roles of specific proteins in placental function and disease, as well as testing novel therapeutic approaches to preeclampsia. In his model, protein expressions can be seen in all stages of pregnancy.
Nayak's team has also developed a way to study how genes act in the placentas of mice. Genes play an important part in the development of the placenta during pregnancy. Better ways to see how abnormal genes act will help us learn more about what causes the amount of certain proteins to be higher ...
Posted in Research on August 05, 2012 by Administrator
Every two years, the International Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy (ISSHP) World Congress brings together the top researchers and clinicians in the field of hypertension in pregnancy to share innovations and encourage collaborations in research and clinical practice. As in year's past, the Preeclampsia Foundation participated in the 2012 meeting held July 9-12 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Like the current Olympics which inspire us to "Citius, Altius, Fortius" (Latin for "faster, higher, stronger"), the World Congress inspires participants to demonstrate new found knowledge and skills, and to push each other forward. In the enthusiasm of science-swapping and networking at a meeting like ISSHP, sometimes the larger purpose of our endeavors - saving lives and improving health outcomes of mothers and babies worldwide - may be forgotten by those racing from one intriguing lecture to the next.
That's where the Preeclampsia Foundation comes in. It is a ...
Posted in Research on August 02, 2012 by Caryn
The hypertensive complications of pregnancy are divided into four distinct classifications: Preeclampsia/eclampsia, Chronic hypertension, preeclampsia superimposed on chronic hypertension, and gestational hypertension. Many people are perplexed by the term "superimposed preeclampsia" which is preeclampsia complicating hypertension of another cause, most commonly chronic or "essential" hypertension. However women with hypertension associated with ...
Posted in Research on April 04, 2012 by Administrator
At the Society for Gynecologic Investigation (SGI) Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego, Calif., in March, the Preeclampsia Foundation, in collaboration with lead authors Dr. Ineke Postma, Dr. Gerda Zeeman, Dr H. Groen of the University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands, and Dr. Thomas Easterling of the University of Washington, presented a poster on cognition, quality of life and social functioning after a hypertensive pregnancy. Many formerly preeclamptic women report difficulties with memory or word choice postpartum, but so do many women with normal pregnancy courses. The unanswered question: what is the likelihood that preeclampsia causes brain changes independent of pregnancy itself? If there are preeclampsia-specific changes, can those be separated from the trauma of a medical crisis?
Enrolling more than 1,000 participants in this study, the Preeclampsia Foundation's survey queried women with (cases) and without (controls) a history of hypertension in ...
Posted in Research on March 01, 2012 by Caryn
Is there a nutritional connection to preeclampsia? That idea seems plausible at first, as when the blood samples of women have been analyzed, some researchers have found altered levels of various vitamins and minerals. Furthermore, preeclamptic women have altered patterns of weight gain during pregnancy; and obese women are more likely to develop preeclampsia.
Such considerations may lead one to speculate that certain diets may prevent or reverse the disease, in which case the appropriate diet becomes a therapeutic intervention. However the best research to date suggests this just isn't so.
Posted in Research on December 04, 2011 by Caryn
Currently there's no way to know for certain whether preeclampsia will develop during any given pregnancy. This leaves pregnant women and their care providers with little choice but to wait for symptoms to appear... dangerous symptoms that mean the disease has progressed to the point where mother and baby are critically ill and will need intensive monitoring and carefully timed delivery to protect their health and lives. The only screening method to date is to measure those symptoms when they appear.
Early detection wouldn't be a treatment. But what if a screening test could let us know, weeks or even months in advance, that we'd probably be getting ill? Knowing might change the way we seek care - possibly choosing specialist care providers with the education and experience to manage medically complicated pregnancies. Women in parts of the world (like
Posted in Research on September 01, 2011 by Administrator
Filtering the Factors
A new therapy may be developed for very preterm preeclampsia patients, if the results of a small pilot study are confirmed in a larger trial. Researchers have been looking for a safe way to prolong pregnancy by at least the 48 hours needed to allow steroid shots to mature fetal lungs. (Each safe extra day in utero eliminates two or three days in NICU, and means higher survival rates for many of the babies affected by preeclampsia.)
In 2003 a paper published by Dr. Ananth Karumanchi in the Journal of Clinical Investigation presented evidence that a protein named soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase (sFlt-1) caused many of the symptoms in preeclampsia. Karumanchi studied the placentas from preeclamptic pregnancies and found that they were producing far more sFlt-1 than the placentas from normal pregnancies. The protein binds to another protein and compromises the repair of blood vessels, leading to many of the symptoms such as ...
Posted in Research on July 03, 2011 by Caryn
A new study came out this month evaluating supplementation of l-arginine as a means of reducing preeclampsia risk. There was a lot of media coverage – you probably had friends and relatives sending you articles like this – and there’s been some discussion of it on the Preeclampsia Foundation forums as well.
Why did researchers think this might work? Well, partly for the same reason that
Posted in Research on February 25, 2011 by Caryn
When preeclampsia studies are reported in the news, there’s rarely enough background to evaluate, from the news article alone, how important the research is, or how strong the findings are, or how likely they are to lead to some sort of improvement in care or treatment of preeclampsia. That’s just a consequence of the way news reporting happens these days; preeclampsia is hard to explain, column inches are scarce, and science reporting divisions have largely been cut from media staff.
Really, when a new bit of research is published in the media, it’s an announcement that some new research was published and then put into an attention-getting wrapper. And that’s all. The way science is handled in the media has become so predictable that it’s been the subject of parody lately.
So it’s best ...
Posted in Research on November 18, 2010 by Administrator
Several major disorders that occur during pregnancy result from failure of the placenta to implant correctly into the uterus or womb. During early pregnancy cells from the placenta, known as trophoblast cells, invade into the uterus and tap into the mother’s blood supply to sustain the growing baby. Failure of this process can lead to insufficient supply of blood to the placenta resulting in preeclampsia, as well as low birth weight babies, stillbirth or recurrent miscarriage.
The invading placental trophoblast cells intermingle with maternal immune cells in the uterine lining. Trophoblast express not only maternal but also paternal genes and these will be different or “foreign” to the mother. Maternal immune cells can recognize these “foreign” fetal molecules and are thought to regulate the implantation process, allowing sufficient but not excessive invasion of the placenta. In the preeclamptic pregnancy this interactive process goes wrong and there is ...
Posted in Research on September 30, 2010 by Administrator
Last month, a team from the University of Alberta reported in the journal Hypertension on a method to determine that a woman is at high risk of developing preeclampsia. While this method may or may not be developed into a screening test in the future, it confirmed that changes in the metabolism and the vasculature of women who go on to develop preeclampsia can be detected at 15 weeks gestation.
Two Preeclampsia Foundation members were involved in media coverage on the topic and we are very grateful to them for bringing a human face to the stories about preeclampsia. Because of the press conference and media efforts of the University, a lot of lay press picked up the story and we are fortunate that the Foundation was mentioned in several of those stories. The research findings while seemingly exciting to a lay public are far from commercial realization and would need more validation for most governmental oversight bodies (e.g., FDA). Our message of "cautious ...
Posted in Research on August 02, 2010 by Administrator
Research into preeclampsia and its relationship to the long-term health of mother and baby reveals both good news and bad news for preeclampsia survivors.
Evidence is unequivocal now that women who have experienced preeclampsia, particularly severe or early onset preeclampsia, are at a significantly increased risk for cardiovascular problems later in life compared to women with a history of healthy pregnancies. The "take home lesson" for preeclampsia survivors is to establish a healthy lifestyle (weight loss, exercise, no smoking) and to discuss cardiovascular assessment and follow up with your health care provider.
"There are very few identified risk factors for later life heart disease in women; preeclampsia is one of the few warning signs we'll get and we should take advantage of it," explained Executive Director Eleni Tsigas.
One study demonstrated that women who have a history of preeclampsia experienced an increased risk of ...
Posted in Research on August 01, 2010 by Administrator
Vitamin D and Microchimerisms:
Could the sun really have something to do with preeclampsia?
"Maternal vitamin D deficiency may be an independent risk factor for preeclampsia. Vitamin D supplementation in early pregnancy should be explored for preventing preeclampsia and promoting neonatal well-being," reads a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2007. Although some of us who had our babies in, say, Portland, Oregon, where the sun rarely shines, would love to claim Vitamin D deficiency, other preeclampsia survivors sweltered under the Arizona or California sun. If you think this might be a possible therapy to explore, talk to your health care professional and check out the discussions in our Community Forum on this topic.
Researchers have found that women with preeclampsia, which causes high blood pressure in ...
Posted in Research on May 04, 2010 by Administrator
Blood pressure cuffs, urine dipsticks, and the scale: for decades, these simple tools have aided health care providers in the detection of preeclampsia. As a woman's pregnancy progresses, her prenatal visits come closer together, so that her weight gain, urine, and blood pressure readings can be monitored for signs of the disorder. However, this system isn't perfect. While preeclampsia most frequently occurs at term, it can sometimes strike much earlier. The disorder can sometimes progress rapidly between appointments, or the warning signs can be too subtle to trigger alarm.
But soon, clinicians may have another method for detecting preeclampsia: a reliable screening test that can spot changes in the bloodstream relatively early in pregnancy, warning healthcare providers when preeclampsia may occur before term.
In the past eight years, a substantial amount ...
Posted in Research on February 12, 2008 by Administrator
On November 20-22, 2007, a meeting was held in Vancouver, British Columbia to discuss The Preeclampsia Integrated Estimate of Risk Study (PIERS) which was lead by Dr. Peter von Dadelszen. Besides being the lead investigator for the study, Dr. von Dadelszen is also a member of the Preeclampsia Foundation’s prestigious Medical Advisory Board, President of the North American Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy (NASSHP), and the President of ERIPED (Equipede Recherché Interdisciplinaire sur la Pre-Eclamspie et ses Determinants), Canada’s preeclampsia research alliance.
The goal of the 41-month PIERS study was to create a rigorous standard care protocol for the diagnosis and intervention of preeclampsia and the purpose of the meeting was to move to the next level of the PIERS study. After prospective gathering of data for seven years, and publishing the findings, the next step was to strategize about what had been learned and figure out how to get hospital ...