16 Jul Preeclampsia: New Study Documents Its Enormous Economic and Health Burden
By Science Daily Staff
Preeclampsia, a dangerous condition that may occur during pregnancy, can lead to serious complications for both mother and baby. Driven in part by older maternal age and greater obesity, rates of preeclampsia are rising rapidly, yet surprisingly there are few national estimates of the health and economic impact of preeclampsia on mothers and their infants. A new study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AJOG) provides sobering data on this topic by examining the short-term costs associated with the condition. Significantly increasing the chance of adverse health outcomes, preeclampsia accounts for over $2.18 billion of health care expenditure in the first 12 months after birth.
The findings of this study are particularly important given the recent rise in preeclampsia cases. Since 1980, cases have increased steadily from 2.4% of pregnancies to 3.8% in 2010. “Existing treatment options for preeclampsia and research into the disease have been limited despite the scale of the disease burden and its high growth rate. From an epidemiologic perspective, preeclampsia is growing at a rate more rapid than diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and chronic kidney disease — diseases for which substantial research and treatment funding have been allocated,” explained senior investigator Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD, Ruth L. Newhouse Associate Professor, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. “This is notable as the rate of growth of early-onset preeclampsia in the U.S. has recently exceeded the rate in other high-income countries, as well as several low- and middle-income countries.”
Roberto Romero, MD, DMedSci., Editor-in-Chief for Obstetrics of AJOG and Chief of the Perinatology Research Branch of NICHD/NIH, stated that preeclampsia is a leading cause of maternal death and perinatal morbidity and mortality. However, policymakers, scientific administrators, patients, and physicians have not had a national estimate of the health care burden and costs of preeclampsia. The article by Jena and colleagues provides important new information and this is why AJOG has selected this article as a Report of Major Impact. Dr. Romero emphasized that the cost of preeclampsia goes beyond the short-term health care expenditures as women affected by this disorder are at an increased risk for early onset cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and hypertension, years and decades after delivery. Moreover, their infants are also at risk for adverse health events due to preeclampsia and preterm birth during childhood and beyond. Therefore, the $2.18 billion health care expenditures in the first 12 months after birth is a minimum estimate of the real financial toll imposed by preeclampsia.
Combining information from multiple U.S. data sources, researchers found that mothers with preeclampsia and their infants were at a significantly increased risk for adverse health events compared to mothers without preeclampsia (increased 4.6% to 10.1% in mothers and 7.8% to 15.4% in infants within 12 months of childbirth). For mothers, the most common preeclampsia-related problems were hemorrhage (3.1% to 5.4%) and thrombocytopenia, low blood platelet count (0.9% to 3.7%). For infants, preeclampsia was most closely related to an increased risk for respiratory distress syndrome (1.9% to 6.6%) and sepsis (3.0% to 5.4%). The longer term adverse outcomes associated with preeclampsia have been demonstrated, for example, preeclampsia has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
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