Women who had preeclampsia in at least one pregnancy are at higher risk of developing end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). For these women, the likelihood of developing ESKD increases five times, compared with women who had never had preeclampsia. The findings were published this Tuesday, in Plos Medicine.

What is preeclampsia?

Characterised by an increase in blood pressure in women who had never had high blood pressure before, preeclampsia is a relatively common disorder: it affects up to 8 in 100 women, and their babies, usually after the 20th week of gestation. Preeclampsia is also a leading cause of maternal and infant disease. In addition to swelling and high levels of protein in the urine, women with the condition are more prone to rapid gain weight, abdominal pain, headaches and dizziness. If undiagnosed, preeclampsia can develop into eclampsia, a more serious condition that may lead to seizures and heart failure. In more extreme cases, preeclampsia can cause the placenta to separate from the uterus.

The study

The researchers hypothesised that preeclampsia may be related to kidney diseases. Early stages of chronic kidney diseases are much more prevalent in women than in men and these sex-specific differences have been widely reported in the scientific community. Ali Khashan, from the University of College Cork, in Ireland, and his team set out to find whether these differences could be, in part, attributed to complications during pregnancies.

Using nationwide data from pregnant women in Sweden, from 1982 until 2012, the team has shown that the incidence rate of ESKD was 1.85 per 100,000 people per year, while the number boosted to 12.35 per 100,000 people among women with a history of preeclampsia. Although the absolute risk of ESKD among women with preeclampsia remains small, the condition should be considered a risk factor for ESKD, researchers warn. 

Khashan AS, Evans M, Kublickas M, McCarthy FP, Kenny LC, Stenvinkel P, et al. (2019) Preeclampsia and risk of end stage kidney disease: A Swedish nationwide cohort study. PLoS Med 16(7): e1002875.

I joined United Academics team in 2015, during my Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences, at the VU Amsterdam. By that time, I was starting to realize that, more than planning scientific experiments, I was interested in understanding how science evolved and where it is going. After joining United Academics, it became clearer that open access must be the path for science advancement. In 2016, I became United Academics's editor-in-chief.

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