London doctors find heart defect clue to explain deadly pregnancy condition

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Women who develop life-threatening pregnancy condition pre-eclampsia may have underlying heart and circulation problems, doctors warned today.

Pre-eclampsia affects up to six per cent of pregnancies and is serious in about a third of cases. It is diagnosed via the mother’s high blood pressure, usually after 24 weeks, and normally results in an early birth . In extreme cases it can cause the mother to have fits, putting her life and that of the child at risk.

About 1,000 babies in Britain die each year as a result of it, mainly due to being born prematurely. The causes of pre-eclampsia and fetal growth restriction (FGR), an overlapping condition that slows or stops a baby’s growth, are something of a mystery but are thought to be linked to abnormalities with the development of the placenta.

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