ASK THE EXPERT
HOW CAN I REDUCE THE RISK OF PRE-ECLAMPSIA IN PREGNANCY?
Q I HAD pre-eclampsia in my first pregnancy, and I’ve just found out I’m pregnant again. What can I do to reduce the risk of getting it this time?
A SPEAKING after a large study found eating a diet rich in vegetables and fish is associated with a lower risk of a pregnant woman developing high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia, consultant obstetrician Dr PAT O’BRIEN, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), says:
“Pre-eclampsia occurs when the placenta doesn’t work properly. It usually occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy and is a combination of raised blood pressure and protein in urine; blood tests may show the liver, kidneys and clotting systems are affected too. Although it’s usually mild, easily managed and has very little effect on pregnancy, it sometimes develops into a more serious illness which can be lifethreatening for mother and baby.
“Around one in six women who’ve had pre-eclampsia will get it again in a future pregnancy. A woman should be given information about her individual risk of developing pre-eclampsia in a future pregnancy and about any additional care she may need. “She should take low dose aspirin (75mg or 100mg a day), starting before 15 weeks of pregnancy. This will significantly reduce her chances of developing pre-eclampsia again.
“A woman has a higher risk of developing pre-eclampsia if her blood pressure was high before pregnancy, her blood pressure was high in a previous pregnancy and/ or she had a medical problem or a condition that affects the immune system. If a woman has any of these risk factors, she will be advised by her doctor to take low-dose aspirin.
“High blood pressure and pre-eclampsia can result in harmful complications for mother and baby. The latest study findings are encouraging as it shows there are additional steps a woman can take to reduce her risk of these conditions by eating healthily.
“It’s also vital that women and their partners are encouraged to manage their weight and to have a healthy diet ideally before conception, to ensure the healthiest possible pregnancy and best start to their child’s life.”