Infertility Treatment Jeopardize Pregnant Women's Health

Having three or more miscarriages and undergoing hormone treatment for infertility increase pregnant women’s risk for pre-eclampsia, a condition of high blood pressure during pregnancy, a recent investigation shows. In the study, which was published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health examined data on over 20,000 first-time mothers from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Their baseline for normalcy was the pre-eclampsia rate among first-time mothers who had never miscarried nor undergone fertility treatment, which was 5.2 percent.

The pre-eclampsia risk rose from 5.2 percent to 7.0 percent among women who had treatment for infertility. Among those who had three or more miscarriages, the pre-eclampsia risk increased to 8.5 percent – though it appeared that having only one or two miscarriages didn’t raise the risk of hypertension during pregnancy. And among women who experienced both multiple miscarriages and infertility treatment, the pre-eclampsia rate rose to 13.1 percent.

Pre-eclampsia results from a malfunctioning placenta, though why the placenta malfunctions is unknown. In later pregnancy, the placenta has difficulty in fulfilling its role in conveying oxygen and nutrients from the mother’s blood to the fetus’. When this happens, the mother’s circulatory system starts to work harder to get blood to the placenta, raising her blood pressure and causing pre-eclampsia. If the condition is untreated, it can progress to eclampsia, which can endanger the life of both mother and fetus. The only effective treatment is delivery of the baby and placenta.

For unknown reasons, having previous normal pregnancies sharply lowers the risk of pre-eclampsia – about 50 percent, in fact. But this protective effect disappears among women with repeated miscarriages. Therefore, the study suggests that common causal factors linked to the placenta’s development and function may be present in infertility, repeated miscarriages and pre-eclampsia.


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