Study Reveals This Pregnancy Complication Is Surging In The US At An Alarming Rate

Pregnancy can be an exciting time as you prepare to bring a child into the world. A lot happens during this time, and it's normal for the human body to undergo many changes. Some symptoms of pregnancy are normal, such as nausea, breast tenderness, mood swings, fatigue, headaches, cramping, and appetite changes. Prenatal care is important and Verywell Health recommends scheduling an appointment with a physician during the first trimester to undergo an exam, listen to the baby's heartbeat, perform an ultrasound, and estimate a due date.

While most women don't experience serious complications with their pregnancies, some do. Age and certain health conditions may also contribute to difficulties during pregnancy. The most common include gestational diabetes, iron deficiency, and high blood pressure (via Verywell Health). New research examining data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics Natality Files shows that pregnant women are developing high blood pressure, also called preeclampsia, at an alarming rate.

The rates have almost doubled

Researchers conducted an analysis of data from 2007 to 2019, using data from over 51 million live births in women between the ages of 15 and 44 years old (per Journal of the American Heart Association). They found that the rate of high blood pressure spiked from 38.4 per 1,000 births to 77.8 per 1,000 births. The jump was larger between 2014 and 2019, showing an increase of about 9% per year compared to 4% per year from 2007 to 2014. The average age of women was 29.1, up from 27.4, but the study revealed that all age groups experienced an increase in risk.

Dr. Sadiya Khan, author of the study and assistant professor of cardiology and epidemiology at Chicago's Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said that the number of women developing preeclampsia is concerning because it can not only negatively affect women and children in the short-term, but also for years to come, per Health Day. Dr. Priya Freaney, an advanced cardiovascular fellow at the university, added that preeclampsia during pregnancy is correlated with a higher risk of heart disease in the long term. The study also concluded that high blood pressure appears to be linked to preterm birth and babies with low birth weight.

The authors of the research said more information was needed to determine underlying factors for preeclampsia, according to Health Day. They also urged women and physicians to be aware of the risk because early detection can save lives.