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Thursday 27th October 2016

Pre-eclampsia link to renal failure

21st August 2008

Women who get a condition in pregnancy known as pre-eclampsia are at significantly higher risk of kidney failure decades later, according to a study in Norway.


Pre-eclampsia produces high blood pressure and other complications in about 5% of pregnancies.

It is suspected of also increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the risk of developing kidney failure rose by a factor of 4.7 with the first pregnancy, 6.4 times with pre-eclampsia in two pregnancies, and 15.5 if a woman had been pregnant three times and developed pre-eclampsia at least twice.

The normal risk level for kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease or ESRD, was around one in 27,000 for all women who had given birth at least once.

This follows research released in 2006, which used the same Norwegian database of more than 500,000 women to show that pre-eclampsia raised the likelihood that a woman would undergo a kidney biopsy later in life.

The kidney problems surfaced an average of 18 years after the pregnancies.

The research team, led by Bjorn Vikse of the University of Bergen, concluded that while the absolute risk of ESRD in women who have had pre-eclampsia is low, pre-eclampsia is a marker for an increased risk of subsequent ESRD.

They said the association was stronger if the pre-eclamptic pregnancy resulted in a low birth-weight or preterm infant, and having a smaller or pre-term child increased the risk of kidney failure even if there was no pre-eclampsia.

The researchers said they did not know whether the health problems are caused by the pre-eclampsia itself, or they are all part of an underlying factor and warned that no body mass data were available for the women in the study.

Obesity by itself can increase the risk of both pre-eclampsia and kidney failure.

Experts Ravi Thadhani of Massachusetts General Hospital and Caren Solomon, a Journal editor, said the good news for women is that the overall risk is quite low.

Even women who had had three previous episodes of pre-eclampsia were 99% likely to avoid getting chronic renal failure.


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