HOW COMMON IS PREECLAMPSIA?, Andrei Rebarber, MD (Digital)

By on January 15, 2016


In the case of pre-eclampsia, diagnoses frequency varies around the globe. Worldwide, pre-eclampsia occurs in about 7.5% of pregnancies, but can be as low as 2% in some countries and up to 10% in others. In the United States, pre-eclampsia occurs in about 3.4% of pregnancies. It is speculated that there are a few factors that play into the variations of these cases.

This variation can be partly due to maternal age, as well as the primiparous population (ie. women that are carrying their first child). These women are at an increased risk for developing pre-eclampsia. Another important factor that affects maternal outcomes between countries has to do with the quality of prenatal care, and additionally, the lack of facilities for intervention after the diagnosis is made.

For example, in the United States, we have the option to deliver somebody diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and still have hope of infant survival as early as 24 weeks gestation age; whereas in the developing world, delivery at less than 32 weeks may result in a death of the baby. Therefore, they generally try to continue the pregnancy longer for the baby’s only chance of survival.

It is very important to address these factors and variations of occurrence, because pre-eclampsia has potentially severe consequences for the mother and the fetus. Not only is it a prevalent disorder, but it is the second most common cause of maternal mortality in the developed world. Also, the outcome for the fetus greatly depends on the gestational age of when it is delivered. Since delivery is the only known cure for this issue, it has a very high perinatal morbidity and mortality.

Although pre-eclampsia is difficult to fully understand for most experts, there are many precautionary steps to take to improve the outcome for the mother and baby. Having access to top prenatal care is essential for a positive, healthy delivery.

Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!

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