Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Wednesday, July 28, 1999 Published at 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK


Health

Hormone clue to pregnancy danger

A test will detect forst signs of complications

An imbalance in hormones may be responsible for pre-eclampsia, a condition that causes complications in pregnancy and even death for mother or child, scientists have said.

The discovery means doctors may be able to identify the condition and rectify it early on.

It occurs late on in pregnancy and causes blood pressure to rise and tissue to retain abnormal amounts of water.

If left untreated it can cause eclampsia, or convulsions, which can prove deadly.

The high blood pressure associated with pre-eclampsia often forces doctors to deliver babies early, as sustained high blood pressure can cause oxygen deficiency in the child.

Comparisons

Researchers at the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development compared 134 women who developed pre-eclampsia with139 similar women who did not.

They found that in women who got pre-eclampsia, levels of a hormone that regulates the size of blood vessels drop weeks before the condition became evident.

This has allowed doctors to get an early warning of the condition using a urine test.

In the past, efforts to prevent the disease using aspirin have failed.

Treatment

Now doctors hope to focus efforts on restoring the body's proper balance of the hormone.

Publishing their results in the Journal of the American Medical Association, they said they could not be certain that the hormone - prostacyclin - was the only element involved, but it was a critical factor.

"Clinically, these findings are important because they suggest that the primary therapeutic strategy for preventing the complications of pre-eclampsia should be restoring (prostacyclin balance)," they said



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


Health Contents

Background Briefings
Medical notes

Relevant Stories

05 May 99 | Health
Snoring in pregnancy 'a danger sign'

15 Jan 99 | Health
Stress causes small babies

18 Nov 98 | Health
Grant aids fight against deaths in labour

13 Jul 98 | Latest News
Mums and babies at risk from missed tests





Internet Links


Pregnancy and Childbirth information

Women's Health: Pregnancy and Birth resources

Pre-eclampsia


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Disability in depth

Spotlight: Bristol inquiry

Antibiotics: A fading wonder

Mental health: An overview

Alternative medicine: A growth industry

The meningitis files

Long-term care: A special report

Aids up close

From cradle to grave

NHS reforms: A guide

NHS Performance 1999

From Special Report
NHS in crisis: Special report

British Medical Association conference '99

Royal College of Nursing conference '99