Helping Identify Highest-Risk Pregnancies in Developing Countries
Pregnancy-induced hypertension, commonly referred to as preeclampsia, remains a major cause of adverse pregnancy outcomes including maternal and fetal death, especially in developing countries like Haiti.
This research project, a collaboration between HAS and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, aims to define the prevalence and clinical characteristics of preeclampsia and eclampsia in rural Haiti and compare it to patients in Boston with a similar diagnosis.
For this project, perinatologist Dr. Sarosh Rana and team did a retrospective chart review at HAS for years 2011 and 2012. Of 1,743 pregnant women who were admitted to HAS during this period, the team found that 288 (17%) of women were diagnosed with preeclampsia. This study shows that the incidence of preeclampsia and related complications (including eclampsia – pregnancy-induced seizures following preeclampsia- , maternal death, and fetal death) is manifold higher in Haiti than in the US. Interestingly, the data also showed that current diagnostic criteria for preeclampsia performed very poorly in predicting adverse outcomes in Haiti.
These findings are essential to the development of region-specific systems to prevent complications from preeclampsia and eclampsia and will allow public health professionals to find resources and focus efforts on institutions like HAS to help promote maternal and child health.