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Mystery of Preeclampsia Revealed!

Last Updated on Friday, April 01, 2011

It's hard not to get excited when you read that headline. And then you remember that it's April 1st and you're probably having your leg pulled. Before you consider yourself an "April Fool," consider these other headlines, pulled directly from media sources around the world over the last month or two:
"Faulty gene that causes pre-eclampsia discovered."
"Gene study lifts hopes on pregnancy."
"New gene linked to preeclampsia discovered."
"First genes linked to pre-eclampsia and immune system disorders."
Reasons to get excited?  Safe to trust the news source?
Many investigators are using genomics - the study of our genes - to discover areas of our genome responsible for specific pregnancy functions that seem to go awry in preeclamptic women.  The problem with headlines that suggest "the" gene has been found is that experts mostly agree that preeclampsia is a multifactoral disease, meaning that preeclampsia may have multiple causes with several different genes responsible for a variety of malfunctions. No single gene causes preeclampsia; more likely it is the confluence of many aberrant genes. Read our article about the cause of preeclampsia for a better description and let us know what you think.
In other news, not all media headlines are misleading or hyperbolic.  The Wall Street Journal recently (and accurately) reported the impact of pregnancy on a woman's future health risks in "Problems in pregnancy signal future health risks." This was an important endorsement of our years of work to educate the public and influence the provision of preventive health care for preeclampsia survivors. If you or somebody you know is a preeclampsia survivor, print out these guidelines and take them to your health care provider. Make sure s/he is noting your pregnancy history in your health records. It matters.

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