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Obstetric Troubles Raise Kidney-Disease Risks

Pregnancy-linked blood pressure complication could cause problems in later life, study found

THURSDAY, Feb. 2, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women who suffer the dangerous high blood pressure condition preeclampsia, or who deliver a low-birth-weight baby, may be at increased risk of developing kidney disease later in their lives, researchers report.

"It is well known that preeclampsia is associated with later cardiovascular disease in the mother. Our study is the first to document a strong relationship between preeclampsia and low-birth-weight offspring and later kidney disease in the mother," study lead author Dr. Bjorn Egil Vikse, of the University of Bergen, Norway, said in a prepared statement.

He and his colleagues analyzed data from more than 756,000 women who gave birth to their first child between 1967 and 1998. During an average follow-up period of 16 years, 588 of the women underwent kidney biopsies in order to collect a tissue sample for diagnosis of kidney disease.

The study found that the likelihood of undergoing kidney biopsy was 17 times higher than normal for women with preeclampsia who delivered a very-low-birth-weight baby and 4.5 times higher for women with preeclampsia who delivered a low-birth-weight baby. Women with preeclampsia who delivered a normal-weight baby also had a 2.5 times higher rate for kidney problems than women without such histories.

Women without preeclampsia who had a low-birth-weight baby had a 70 percent increased risk of future kidney biopsy, compared to women who delivered a normal-weight baby.

"When planning our study, we expected to find associations between preeclampsia and low-birth-weight offspring on the one hand and having a kidney biopsy on the other. However, we were surprised that the associations were as strong as they were and that preeclampsia predicted kidney disease in general, rather than specific renal diseases," Vikse said.

"It may be that preeclampsia and renal disease are caused by similar mechanisms, or that preeclampsia directly causes or aggravates underlying renal disease. Further study is also needed to determine the public health benefit of follow-up for kidney disease in women with previous preeclampsia," he said.

The findings appear in the March issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about preeclampsia.

SOURCE: American Society of Nephrology, news release, Jan. 19, 2006
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