January 25, 2006

Preeclampsia linked with later kidney problems

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Pregnant women who develop
preeclampsia and who have a low birth weight infant appear to
have an increased risk of later kidney problems, according to
an online report in the Journal of the American Society of
Nephrology. The risk of kidney disease is highest in women with
both factors.

Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy characterized
by elevated blood pressure and protein in the urine that occurs
after the 20th week.

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

To evaluate the link between pregnancy outcomes and kidney
disease, the researchers correlated data from a Norwegian birth
registry with that from a kidney biopsy registry. The study
included 756,420 women, of whom 588 underwent kidney biopsy an
average of 15.9 years after the birth of their child.

Preeclampsia and having a low birth weight infant, either
alone or in combination, was tied to an elevated risk of kidney
biopsy. Moreover, the risk of kidney disease increased as
infant birth weight decreased.

Vikse said his team expected to find preeclampsia and low
birth weight were associated with the development of kidney
disease, but were surprised at the strength of the
associations. Also, they were surprised that pregnancy outcome
predicted future kidney disease in general, and not just a
specific type, he added.

The development of preeclampsia and kidney disease may
involve similar mechanisms, Vikse said, adding that further
studies are needed to determine if it would be worthwhile, from
a public health standpoint, to screen women with a preeclampsia
history for kidney disease.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Society of Nephrology,
January 18, 2006.