What is Pre-eclampsia Screening?
Your doctor has requested pre-eclampsia screening at the time of your 12-14 week ultrasound examination.
The Ultrasound Care team of obstetricians has been performing 12-14 week ultrasound screening for Down syndrome and other fetal abnormalities for the past 17 years. As more research has become available, the complexity of the test has increased, along with its usefulness.
The “12-14 week scan” performed at Ultrasound Care can now identify women at increased risk of developing early onset, severe pre-eclampsia which is why you have been referred to our practice.
What is Pre-eclamspia?
Pre-eclampsia is a complication of pregnancy which causes high blood pressure and other complications in pregnant women. The fetus can also be affected, the most common risks for the baby are growth restriction and prematurity. Severe cases can result in intra-uterine fetal death.
Who is at risk of pre-eclampsia?
The risk of pre-eclampsia is higher if you have had previous blood pressure problems. But even low risk women can get it. It affects 2-5% of all pregnant women. But less than 1 in 200 (0.5%) will get severe pre-eclampsia before 34 weeks gestation.
In the past there was no way of screening for pre-eclampsia. But now, screening can be performed at the 12-14 week scan, to identify whether or not you are at high risk of developing the condition. The screening program can detect 90% of women who will go on to develop pre-eclampsia.
The advantage of early screening for pre-eclampsia is that early administration of low dose aspirin to the pregnant mother is thought to be able to improve the outcomes and reduce the complications in about 50% of affected pregnancies. If you screen positive and you have no contra-indications, you may be advised to take low dose aspirin (150mg) every night of your pregnancy until 36 weeks of gestation.
How do we determine your risk for pre-eclampsia?
The risk of developing pre-eclampsia is calculated by using your past history and family history, along with measurements of the blood flow in the uterine arteries, obtained at the ultrasound examination. Your blood pressure will also need to be measured to contribute to the calculations. Finally, the first trimester blood test results will be added, as they can reflect the placental function.
To arrange for pre-eclampsia screening, please contact the Ultrasound Care practice most convenient to you. Once the tests are completed and the results received, we will provide the report of the testing to your referring doctor. However, if you have any questions about the pre-eclampsia screening test or the results, please do not hesitate to contact us and arrange to speak to one of our team.