05:29am Thursday 04 June 2020

Study finds ethnicity increases risk of preeclampsia


Dr. Joel Ray

Dr. Joel RayWomen from Hispanic American or Sub-Saharan African countries had a 3.1 times higher risk of serious preeclampsia than women born elsewhere, according to researchers led by Dr. Joel Ray.

Women born in the Caribbean had a 3.3 times higher risk of the condition, he found.

Results of his research were published in the April issue of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada.

Preeclampsia is marked by the development of high blood pressure and protein in the urine after the 20th week of pregnancy, the late second or early third trimester. In this study, researchers defined “serious preeclampsia” as being severely high blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine, or any degree elevated blood pressure and urine protein in conjunction with either fetal death, premature deliver or mother’s hospital stay greater than six days.

Serious preeclampsia can lead to seizures, preterm delivery, fetal death or a mother’s hospital stay of seven days or more.

“We identified immigrant groups at higher risk of serious preeclampsia, whose consequences are, presumably, greater financial costs for hospital care and a negative impact on maternal and newborn well-being,” said Drs. Ray and Marcelo Urquia of the Keenan Research Centre of St. Michael’s Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

The study of 118,849 women who immigrated to Ontario between 1985 and 2000 and give birth between 2002 and 2009 found:

  • Women from industrialized countries have a rate of serious preeclampsia of 1.9 per 1,000 women.
  • Women from Hispanic American or Sub-Saharan African countries had a 3.1 times higher risk of serious preeclampsia (about 5.9 per 1,000 women)
  • Women from the Caribbean had a 3.3 times higher adjusted risk (a rate of about 6.8 per 1,000 women).

“The world region where immigrant women are born can be used to further aid in the identification of those at greatest risk for serious preeclampsia,” said Dr. Ray.

“Physicians can then monitor those women and their fetuses more closely and may wish to recommend they take daily Aspirin after 12 weeks of gestation.”

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Center, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Media Contacts

For more information or to interview Dr. Ray, please contact:

Leslie Shepherd
Manager, Media Relations
Phone: 416-864-6094 or 647-300-1753
[email protected]

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