Touching Lives - September 2003
Pre-eclampsia makes headlines
This is exciting news, not least because pre-eclampsia is such a common complication of pregnancy, affecting 1 in 10 pregnant women at least mildly. For 1 in every 50 pregnant women it causes serious complications.
The devastating condition causes a pregnant woman’s blood pressure to rise to dangerously high levels and can prove fatal to both mother and baby. The cause is unknown, there is no effective treatment, and in severe cases doctors have no choice but to deliver the baby early.
^Action Medical Research is funding a three year study at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital^, headed by Professor Christopher Redman, to examine whether shedding of tissue from the placenta into the mother’s circulation could lead to pre-eclampsia.
They are investigating whether a shortage of oxygen in the placenta causes increased shedding of debris and if treatments (including anti-oxidant vitamins) can protect the placenta when oxygen supplies run low.
The work of Professor Redman and his team is laboratory-based, using placental tissue taken from consenting mothers. The project, due for completion in early 2005, should further our understanding of the causes of this devastating condition and may lead to new treatments.