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Preeclampsia linked with higher risk of preterm delivery

TORONTO, June 4 Every six minutes, a woman dies of a pregnancy complication called preeclampsia nine women an hour, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation. The disorder, which is linked to hypertension and affects 3 million women a year worldwide, can be equally devastating for infants.

Now, research being presented at the 13th World Congress of the International Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy by scientists from the Magee-Womens Research Institute and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine suggests that the risk of preeclampsia may actually decrease if a woman smokes, but that the negative effects of preeclampsia may persist even though the condition itself is not present in a later pregnancy.

"Research is closing in on this menace," said James M. Roberts, M.D., professor and chairman of research in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, director of the Magee-Womens Research Institute and president of the International Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy. "But there is still much to do."

By comparing the uric acid concentrations in blood samples between women with normal pregnancies including smokers, nonsmokers and women who had quit smoking during pregnancy, Kristine Yoder Lain, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and her colleagues found elevated levels of uric acid in smokers. But the highest rate of increase was found among women who had quit smoking at the onset of pregnancy, suggesting that smoking may actually decrease the risk for preeclampsia. Many other adverse health effects remain for both women and their babies, however, when a woman continues to smoke during pregnancy.

Dr. Lain and her colleagues also compared pregnancy outcomes among women who had preeclampsia early or late in a previous pregnancy, as
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Contact: Michele Baum
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
4-Jun-2002


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