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The hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) complicate 5-10% of pregnancies and lead to serious maternal illness or death. The HDP include the conditions of pre-eclampsia, pre-existing hypertension and gestational hypertension. Pre-eclampsia is the most serious of these disorders and worldwide is the second leading cause of maternal death, and results in 60,000-80,000 maternal deaths each year. Over 99% of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries (LMICs). The WHO estimates that more than 500,000 fetuses and newborns die annually due to pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia can be treated with anti-hypertensive agents (to relieve high blood pressure) and magnesium sulphate (MgSO4) to prevent and treat eclampsia (seizures), but the only way to cure pre-eclampsia is to deliver the placenta and infant. Pre-eclampsia-related maternal deaths result primarily from delays in diagnosis, triage, transport, and treatment, resulting in intracerebral haemorrhage (stroke) related to high blood pressure and eclampsia (seizures).

The opportunity

The theme of PRE-EMPT is to develop, test and introduce new knowledge that will reduce the unacceptable maternal, perinatal, family, societal, and global impacts of pre-eclampsia, and the other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. The University of British Columbia and King's College London with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation leads the PRE-EMPT (PRE-eclampsia & Eclampsia Monitoring, Prevention & Treatment) initiative (PI: Peter von Dadelszen).  

Initiative objectives

The PRE-EMPT initiative consists of five inter-related objectives to be conducted over a seven year period (Nov 2010 – June 2018).

  • Objective 1: Prevention
  • Objective 2: Monitoring
  • Objective 3: Treatment
  • Objective 4: Global Pregnancy Collaboration
  • Objective 5: Knowledge Translation