Pre-eclampsia (PE) is a pregnancy complication that can seriously affect the mother and the baby. It causes high blood pressure and can potentially cause kidney and other organ damage for the mother. It is associated with fetal growth restriction, premature birth and an increased risk of miscarriage.

Pre-eclampsia affects 2-5% of pregnant women, of whom about 1 in 100 (1%) can suffer from severe pre-eclampsia arising before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Early screening for pre-eclampsia is important since early intervention (before 14 weeks) can reduce the risks for both mother and baby.

PE screening at 11-14 weeks involves:

  • A blood test for PAPP-A and PIGF
  • Measurement of blood pressure
  • Measurement of height and weight
  • Medical history
  • Doppler ultrasound of the uterine arteries at 11-14 weeks of pregnancy

Medical history is relevant as a personal history of high blood pressure or other conditions, or a family history of pre-eclampsia will affect the risk estimate. This medical information is combined with ultrasound measurements of blood flow in the uterine arteries along with levels of PAPP-A (pregnancy-associated plasma protein A) and PIGF (placenta growth factor) available through a blood test. This combined approach identifies approximately 75% of women who will develop pre-eclampsia and need delivery before 37 weeks.

If the result indicates a high risk of developing pre-eclampsia, a simple and generally safe treatment with low dose aspirin, under the direct instruction of the referring obstetrician, can help prevent the onset of the most severe type of the disease.

MUFW routinely performs pre-eclampsia screening at the 13 week ultrasound.