Preeclampsia during pregnancy may signal kidney trouble later on

Preeclampsia is a significant issue in and of itself, however, a new report suggests that women who experience this condition during pregnancy may have a higher risk of developing kidney failure later  in life.

Preeclampsia is a condition that results from dangerously high blood pressure combined with excessive protein in the urine past the 20th week of pregnancy, specifically in women who have no history of high blood pressure. It can be characterized by either a slight or a significant increase in blood pressure, both of which can present severe complications to the pregnancy and delivery. In many cases, preeclampsia results in emergency C-section delivery. If the condition takes hold before the time comes for delivery, the baby may not be fully developed.

Women who experience preeclampsia frequently experience harder births and run a higher risk of poor birth outcomes. In addition, women who experience this condition are also at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life. Now, medical researchers say that kidney failure may be more likely as well, according to a study presented at the American Society of Nephrology Kidney Week 2013 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

For the study, researchers were led by Andrea Kattah, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic. They studied 8,362 female residents of Olmsted County, MN, who gave birth between the years 1976 and 1982. They identified kidney failure cases using the United States Renal Data System, and matched each case with two controls. Researchers ultimately identified 20 cases of kidney failure in women. Of those, approximately 40 percent had experienced preeclampsia or eclampsia - a condition that is characterized as preeclampsia with additional seizures. Like preeclampsia, eclampsia is dangerous and may even be fatal. In most cases, the women had also experienced diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) during their pregnancies before preeclampsia set in. The average onset of the kidney failure in the women was 52.6 years.

"Preeclampsia is associated with a higher odds of end stage renal disease. However, after adjusting for diabetes and hypertension, the association was attenuated and no longer significant," said those presenting the study.

Prevention and control are key
This means that women should focus more on the prevention and control of diabetes and hypertension, as they are the underlying causes of preeclampsia. Those who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes should be especially cautious, and should consider consulting a dietician along with their regular obstetrician. Even those who haven't been diagnosed with diabetes should request screening in their first trimester, as many women develop a condition known as gestational diabetes, or diabetes during pregnancy. If undetected, women face a higher risk of developing the hypertension that may lead to preeclampsia and eclampsia.

Does learning the risks of preeclampsia and eclampsia make you more likely to alter your diet to prevent or control diabetes during pregnancy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.