Genetics point to serious pregnancy complication

November 15, 2012

New research at the University of Adelaide has revealed a genetic link in pregnant mums - and their male partners - to pre-eclampsia, a life-threatening complication during pregnancy.

Pre-eclampsia involves high blood pressure and fluid retention and can cause damage to the kidneys and liver. About 7% of pregnancies are affected by pre-eclampsia.

In a paper now online in the journal Placenta ahead of print publication, the researchers say they have found a genetic variant involving the AGT2R gene, which may predispose women to pre-eclampsia.

However, the genetic variant is only associated with pre-eclampsia when the pregnant mother is overweight or obese.

"Being able to predict which women are at risk of pre-eclampsia is a very important goal in obstetrics," says Professor Claire Roberts from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute.

Professor Roberts, Dr Ang Zhou and Professor Gus Dekker from the Robinson Institute studied data from the SCOPE study, involving more than 2000 women and their partners in Adelaide, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand.

Women who developed pre-eclampsia who were also overweight or obese were twice as likely to carry the AGT2R gene variant than the common form of the gene. The male partners of women with pre-eclampsia were also twice as likely to carry the variant gene. Their babies were three times more likely to carry the variant.

"This is a condition that can run in families," Professor Roberts says. "With both the mother and the father passing on their variant genes to their children, this places the child at greater risk of parenting a pre-eclamptic pregnancy."

Professor Roberts says the genetic variant is linked with restricted blood flow to the placenta.

"Impaired blood flow in the uterine artery is characterized by a 'notching effect' that appears on a Doppler ultrasound at 20 weeks gestation. Uterine artery notching has previously been associated with pre-eclampsia, and this restricted blood flow is due to impaired placental development," Professor Roberts says.

The researchers say the genetic variant has only a subtle effect in women of normal weight, but in overweight and obese women it appears to independently contribute to the risk of pre-eclampsia.

"Understanding this association could help to predict which women are likely to develop pre-eclampsia," Professor Roberts says.

"However, it also helps to reinforce the message that a normal weight prior to pregnancy will lower the risk of serious complications - being overweight or obese increases the risk of complications."
-end-
Media Contact:Professor Claire Roberts
Robinson Institute
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 3118
claire.roberts@adelaide.edu.au

University of Adelaide

Related Pregnancy Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 has a prolonged effect for many during pregnancy
Symptoms for pregnant women with COVID-19 can be prolonged, lasting two months or longer for a quarter of the women who participated in a national study led by UC San Francisco and UCLA.

Relaxed through pregnancy
A group of researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have been able to show that maternal psychological wellbeing during pregnancy has a positive effect on newborn infants.

Trajectories of antidepressant medication use during pregnancy
In an analysis of women who started pregnancy when taking antidepressant medications, investigators identified three trajectories of antidepressant dispensing during pregnancy: more than half stopped their treatment, a quarter maintained their treatment throughout pregnancy, and one-fifth discontinued it for a minimum of three months and then resumed it during the postpartum period.

Are women using e-cigarettes during preconception and/or pregnancy?
A new study of 1,365 racially/ethnically diverse, low-income pregnant women found that 4% reported e-cigarette use.

A better pregnancy test for whales
To determine whale pregnancy, researchers have relied on visual cues or hormone tests of blubber collected via darts, but the results were often inconclusive.

Cannabis use during pregnancy
The large health care system Kaiser Permanente Northern California provides universal screening for prenatal cannabis use in women during pregnancy by self-report and urine toxicology testing.

Questions and answers about cannabis use during pregnancy
A new study shows that women have many medical questions about the use of cannabis both before and during pregnancy, and during the postpartum period while breastfeeding.

The effect of taking antidepressants during pregnancy
Exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy and the first weeks of life can alter sensory processing well into adulthood, according to research in mice recently published in eNeuro.

Is ivermectin safe during pregnancy?
Is it safe to give ivermectin to pregnant women? To answer this question, researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by 'la Caixa,' conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that reported cases of accidental exposure to the drug among pregnant women.

Going to sleep on your back in late pregnancy
This study looked at whether going to sleep on your back in the third trimester of pregnancy was associated with average lower birth weights.

Read More: Pregnancy News and Pregnancy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.