START OF STUDY. In January, a national study begins that includes pregnant women with preeclampsia, also known as gestational hypertension, under the leadership of researchers at the University of Gothenburg and Sahlgrenska University Hospital. “It is a unique opportunity for pregnant women with preeclampsia where the tested medication could potentially be used in clinics within a few years if it proves effective,” says Lina Bergman, the lead researcher behind the study.
Preeclampsia is a serious condition for pregnant women. It often leads to the need for earlier delivery than expected, which can impact the child both in the short and long term.
“Today, there is no treatment for preeclampsia, and if the disease occurs early, it involves an even higher risk for both the mother and the child. Therefore, we want to find out if there are medications that can slow down the disease process and improve the prognosis,” says Lina Bergman, the lead researcher behind the study, as well as a senior physician and associate professor.
Multiple locations in Sweden
Sahlgrenska University Hospital is the sponsor tasked with leading and coordinating the study, which takes place at multiple locations in Sweden. Pia Gudmundsson, a researcher at the Department of Clinical Sciences, coordinates the contact with a total of five regions in Sweden, including a total of seven maternity centers.
“All research that can improve maternity care is crucial for the well-being of pregnant women,” says Pia Gudmundsson, coordinator overseeing the contact with a total of five regions in Sweden, including a total of seven maternity centers.
Felicia Andersson, a research assistant and nurse at Östra Hospital, has the role of being locally responsible for the inclusion of women at Östra Hospital.
– “There is still so much lack of knowledge in maternity care, as pregnant women have not been prioritized in research. The pregnant woman is a patient but also a part of future healthcare. If they are not included in drug trials, they are also deprived of the right to improved care for themselves and their children. When preeclampsia occurs early (between 22 to 34 weeks), it is often a shock for the pregnant woman, and there are no treatment options to stop the progression of the disease, which is why this trial is so important.
An unpredictable disease
The majority of women with preeclampsia receive the diagnosis after week 37. In a quarter of cases, the disease manifests earlier, and preeclampsia is an unpredictable condition. In most women, it is detected in time and cured by delivery, but sometimes preeclampsia can cause organ complications for the mother and also affect the child in the form of growth restriction, placental abruption, or intrauterine fetal death. If the child is born prematurely or experiences complications, it means that the child needs neonatal care and, in the worst case, may suffer from more severe short- and long-term complications.
“Preeclampsia is one of the most common reasons why we choose to deliver prematurely. It is hopeful that we see increased research funding in maternity care in recent years, such as from the Swedish Research Council, which is the case for this trial and also for other Swedish trials, such as the OPTION study, also conducted at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. We see that obstetric studies are gaining attention,” says Lina Bergman.
BY: KARIN MARKHEDE
The article was first published by Sahlgrenskaliv.