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Preeclampsia linked with higher risk of preterm delivery and later-life vascular disease

TORONTO, June 3 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 preeclampsia may be linked to increased risk of preterm delivery and later-life hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

"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 Magee-Womens Research Institute, and president of the International Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy. "But there is still much to do."

Carl A. Hubel, Ph.D., assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and his colleagues found that blood concentrations of a metabolic sugar called sialic acid are increased in women who develop preeclampsia with preterm delivery, but not term delivery. By studying blood samples from pregnant women who had experienced preeclampsia in a prior pregnancy, Dr. Hubel's group found that preeclampsia that takes place in preterm is generally more severe than that which develops later, and is more likely to be associated with fetal growth restriction.

In addition, "elevated levels of sialic acid indicate inflammation and are associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis, or stiffening of the blood vessels," said Dr. Hubel, who also is an investigator at the Magee-Womens Research Institute in Pittsburgh.

Dr. Hubel's
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Contact: Michele Baum
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
3-Jun-2002


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