Skip to content

    Health & Pregnancy

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Preeclampsia May Run in Families

    Gene Variation Could Also Cause Preeclampsia Complications

    WebMD Health News

    April 4, 2005 -- Faulty genetics may play a role in whether or not a pregnant woman develops preeclampsiapreeclampsia and could explain why the condition runs in families, according to a report in Nature Genetics.

    Preeclampsia is a potentially life-threatening condition marked by three specific symptoms: water retention (with swelling particularly in the feet, legs, and hands); high blood pressure; and protein in the urine, a sign of possible kidney damage. All three symptoms must be present at the same time. The condition affects 2% to 7% of pregnancies. Its cause is poorly understood, but genetic susceptibility has often been raised as possibility.

    Using gene sequencing techniques, researcher Cees Oudejans and colleagues analyzed families with two or more sisters affected by preeclampsia among women in the Netherlands.

    The condition is not inherited yet can affect various members within a family.

    Analyzing placental tissue, which is believed to be the source of symptoms of preeclampsia, researchers discovered that most women with preeclampsia carry an ill-functioning variation of a particular gene. An identical ill-functioning gene was found between affected sisters. The researchers also show that the gene appears to be inherited along maternal lines.

    The gene -- STOX 1 -- works in the placenta, the lining of the uterus. The researchers say that loss of function of this gene may lead to many of the complications seen in preeclampsia, such as liver abnormalities, anemia, and blood clotting problems.

    Preeclampsia is typically diagnosed in pregnant women past 20 weeks of pregnancy who have persistent high blood pressure (> 140/90 mm Hg or higher). These women also have high levels of protein in the urine.

    Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

    Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
    what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
     
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
     
    slideshow fetal development
    Slideshow
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    Article
     
    What Causes Bipolar
    Video
    Woman trying on dress in store
    Slideshow
     
    pregnant woman
    Article
    Woman looking at pregnancy test
    Quiz
     
    calendar and baby buggy
    Tool
    dark chocolate squares
    Slideshow