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Pregnant women who suffer from pre-eclampsia ‘are FIVE TIMES more likely to develop kidney failure’

Pregnant women who suffer from pre-eclampsia ‘are FIVE TIMES more likely to develop kidney failure’

  • Study of over 1 million women found pre-eclampsia raises the risk by 4.96 times
  • Both conditions linked to the break down of cells that line inside of blood vessels
  • A mysterious genetic mutation may also increase the risk of both disorders 

Pregnant women who suffer from pre-eclampsia are more likely to develop kidney failure, research suggests.

Data of 1.3million women showed mothers-to-be who battle the complication are 4.96 times more likely to have end-stage kidney disease in later life. 

The scientists at the University College Cork, who led the study, admitted they are currently unclear on why the link exists.

But they noted both conditions are linked to the breakdown of cells that line the inside of blood vessels. A genetic mutation may also be to blame. 

Pregnant women with pre-eclampsia are five times more at risk of kidney failure (stock)

Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication that causes high blood pressure and protein in the urine.

It affects up to six per cent of pregnancies in the UK, according to the charity Tommy’s.

And in the US, between five and eight per cent of expectant mothers develop the disorder, Preeclampsia Foundation statistics show. 

The condition, which can be deadly for both a mother and child, can only be cured by delivering the baby. Sufferers have to be closely monitored until it is safe to do so.


Chronic kidney disease (CKD), also called chronic kidney failure, describes the gradual loss of kidney function. 

Our kidneys filter out waste products and excess fluids from the blood before they are excreted through urine. They also help maintain blood pressure.

As CKD advances, the kidneys do not function properly and dangerous levels of waste build up in your body.

The risk of CKD increases as you age. It is also more common among Asians and blacks.

CKD does not usually cause any symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage. It can be detected early on via blood and urine tests.

Symptoms include: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Sleep problems
  • Changes in how much you urinate
  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Muscle twitches and cramps
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Persistent itching
  • Chest pain, if fluid builds up around the lining of the heart
  • Shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the lungs
  • High blood pressure that is difficult to control

Those with the condition have a greater risk of having a stroke or heart attack. It can also cause kidney failure, when sufferers will need to have dialysis or a possible transplant.

However, lifestyle changes and medication can stop the disease from getting worse if it is diagnosed at an early stage.

To reduce your risk:  

  • Follow instructions for over-the-counter medications. Taking too many pain relievers can lead to kidney damage
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking cigarettes can cause kidney damage 

Source: Mayo Clinic

Kidney failure is the last stage of chronic renal disease. It occurs when the kidneys stop working well enough for a patient to survive without dialysis or a transplant. 

Around 61,000 people are being treated for kidney failure in the UK, Kidney Care UK statistics show.

And more than 660,000 Americans have the condition, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.  

Kidney disease is on the rise worldwide, the researchers wrote in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Early symptoms, such as swollen ankles, blood in the urine and itchy skin, are more common in women than men.

This has led scientists to speculate whether pregnancy is involved. To uncover this, the researchers analysed data from the Swedish Medical Birth Register.

They looked at more than 1.3 million women who collectively gave birth over 2.6 million times between 1982 and 2012.

Pre-eclampsia was recorded at the time the women were discharged from hospital. They were then followed for up to 30 years.

Results revealed the women who had pre-eclampsia in at least one pregnancy were almost five times more likely to develop kidney failure in later life.  

And those who had two pregnancies complicated by pre-eclampsia were over seven times more at risk. 

This occurred regardless of the women’s age, or whether they had kidney or heart disease before they conceived. 

The researchers estimate pre-eclampsia is responsible for 14 per cent of all kidney-failure cases that affect mothers. 

‘Pre-eclampsia is a sex-specific, independent risk factor for the subsequent development of ESKD,’ the authors, led by Dr Ali Kashan, wrote.

Pre-eclampsia has been liked to a loss of specialised cells in the glomerulus. This is a cluster of capillaries in the kidneys that filter blood to produce urine.

This cell loss is not replenished following pregnancy and may increase a woman’s kidney failure risk, the researchers wrote. 

They stressed, however, ‘the overall ESKD risk remains small’.

‘Whether screening or preventative strategies will reduce the risk of ESKD in women with adverse pregnancy outcomes is worthy of further investigation,’ the researchers wrote. 

Kim Kardashian developed pre-eclampsia while pregnant with her eldest daughter North West in 2012-to-2013.

To prevent complications that would affect both her and her unborn child, the then 32-year-old Kim was induced six weeks early.


Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication that causes high blood pressure, which can be deadly for both a woman and her unborn baby if untreated.

It usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure is typically normal. 

The most effective treatment is an early delivery; usually via C-section.

However, this may not be best for the baby if it is early on in the pregnancy. 

Pre-eclampsia affects about 25,000 women in England and Wales each year, and four per cent of pregnancies in the US.

It can have no symptoms if it develops gradually rather than coming on suddenly.

A blood pressure reading above 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) on two occasions is usually the first sign.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Severe headaches
  • Blurred vision, temporary loss of sight or light sensitivity
  • Upper abdominal pain, particularly under the ribs on the right side
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Reduced urination
  • Shortness of breath due to a build up of fluid in the lungs

Sudden weight gain, and swelling in the face and hands, are also symptoms, however, these can occur during normal pregnancies. 

Pre-eclampsia is thought to begin in the placenta when its blood vessels narrow and do not react to hormones properly.

This reduces the amount of blood that flows through them.

Its underlying cause may be genetic, due to a problem with a woman’s immune system or existing blood vessel damage.

A woman is more at risk if she, or a member of her family, suffered from pre-eclampsia before.

The risk is also highest during the first pregnancy, and if a woman is over 40; obese; black; having a multiple birth, like twins; or conceived via IVF.

Existing medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, migraines and kidney disease also raise the risk.

If untreated, pre-eclampsia can restrict a baby’s growth or cause it to be delivered early.

The placenta can also separate from the uterus wall, which can lead to severe bleeding.

A woman may also suffer seizures, organ damage and even heart disease as a result of untreated pre-eclampsia.

Although treatment is usually inducing labour, if it is too early to deliver the baby, medications may be prescribed to lower a woman’s blood pressure.

There is no clear advice on how to prevent pre-eclampsia, however, research suggests taking a low-dose of aspirin and calcium supplements may help. 

Pregnant women should talk to their doctor before taking any drugs or supplements. 

Source: Mayo Clinic 


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