Pre-eclampsia Screening

Pre-eclampsia is a complication that develops during pregnancy. It can happen to any woman and in any pregnancy. It is a major life-threatening condition and is the second major cause of maternal deaths globally. Pregnant women need to undergo pre-eclampsia screening to help in early identification and to reduce complications that may arise from it. To understand pre-eclampsia, its risk, and how screening is necessary, read on.

What is Pre-eclampsia?

Pre-eclampsia is a condition where persistent high blood pressure develops for the first time in mid-pregnancy, usually after 20 weeks of gestation, or right after delivery. Pre-eclampsia may lead to complications of eclampsia, stroke, organ failure, etc. For the foetus, pre-eclampsia may lead to low birth weight, growth restrictions in the uterus, and stillbirth.

There is no reason to panic as many cases are mild. However, pre-eclampsia can lead to serious complications for both mother and baby if it's not monitored and treated. 

The Importance of Pre-eclampsia Screening 

Pre-eclampsia can quickly become a serious or even fatal condition for both the mother and the foetus. Pre-eclampsia screening will identify and diagnose the condition early and allow close monitoring resulting in a better outlook for the mother and baby. 

The Symptoms of Pre-eclampsia

The early indications of pre-eclampsia are high blood pressure and protein in the urine, which will be detected by your doctor during your routine antenatal checkups.

Other signs include: 

  • severe headache
  • vision problems, like blurring, dark spots, or flashing
  • pain just below the ribs
  • vomiting
  • swelling of the face, hands, or feet
  • shortness of breath.

If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately!

Methods of Pre-Eclampsia Screening

Blood pressure measurements 

This is the most important and reliable tool routinely used in pre-eclampsia screening. Persistent high blood pressure after several measurements is an indication of pre-eclampsia. 

Urine test

Usually, at every antenatal appointment, you will be asked to give a urine sample. This can be easily tested for protein levels. High levels of the protein indicate pre-eclampsia.

Blood tests

After 20 weeks of pregnancy, you may need to undergo a blood test that measures the levels of placental growth factor (PIGF), a protein. If your PIGF levels are high, likely, you do not have pre-eclampsia. However, low PIGF levels could lead to developing symptoms of pre-eclampsia. It is an important screening tool for predicting this condition.

Another blood test that may be conducted is to check pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPP-A), a biomarker that predicts later pre-eclampsia development and primarily early onset pre-eclampsia. Studies have shown a decrease of PAPP-A in the early second trimester of pregnancy in women who subsequently develop pre-eclampsia compared with women who do not develop pre-eclampsia. 


An ultrasound is used to measure the placental blood flow in pre-eclampsia screening. The blood supply to the placenta might be decreased in pre-eclampsia. Also, an ultrasound will help your doctor check foetal growth. 

Pre-eclampsia screening is very important and should take place periodically throughout pregnancy during antenatal checkups. All pregnant women are at risk for pre-eclampsia and screening is necessary to avoid serious complications. Antenatal visits should be regular and if you screen positive for pre-eclampsia, you must follow your doctor’s advice completely.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, DELHI-NCR - Chirag Enclave. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. Should I screen for pre-eclampsia?

Blood pressure and urine tests are regularly monitored during antenatal visits. If your doctor feels that you may develop pre-eclampsia, you may be advised to take other screening tests.

2. How accurate are pre-eclampsia screening tests?

It has been found that early prediction of pre-eclampsia by a combination of screening tests can predict about 95% of early pre-eclampsia cases.

3. What happens if I screen positive for pre-eclampsia?

The chances you will develop serious complications are low as the condition has been detected early. Strictly follow the advice of your doctor, who will be monitoring you closely.

4. What are the risks of developing pre-eclampsia?

The risks include high BMI, existing blood pressure, first pregnancy, multiple pregnancies, and any personal or family history of pre-eclampsia.

5. Can I develop pre-eclampsia after delivery?

Pre-eclampsia usually improves soon after delivery. However, complications can sometimes develop a few days later. Your doctor may advise you to stay in the hospital after childbirth for monitoring.

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