A pioneering study has been launched to understand a rare condition which kills 1,000 babies a year.
Imperial College London launched the CONCEIVE project to understand more about pre-eclampsia, which affects up to five per cent of UK pregnancies each year.
It is the first study to collect comprehensive cardiovascular data in a large number of woman in detail from before the time of conception right through to birth.
The university is aiming to recruit 600 women aged 18 to 44 planning to start a family and follow them over a year with safe and non-invasive tests as well as a fertility monitor at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital in White City .
Pre-eclampsia is difficult to define but those suffering from it will have high blood pressure and protein in urine and will feel generally unwell.
Most cases are mild but it can lead to serious complications for both mother and baby if not monitored and treated, and the earlier it is diagnosed the better the outlook.
Sarsha McEntee, of Ealing , found out she had pre-eclampsia at 26 weeks when her daughter, Nancy, now nine-months-old, was delivered on Valentine’s Day at Queen Charlotte’s but Sarsha had to stay in a high-dependency unit for seven days due to internal bleeding from pre-eclampsia associated complications and Nancy was in hospital for over three months.
The 42-year-old, said: “I just felt odd and tired and, because I was pregnant and looking after a toddler, I didn’t think it was unusual. However the feeling got worse quite suddenly and, because of the protein in my urine, I decided to go to Ealing hospital. In the maternity triage they found my blood pressure had rocketed to 220/140 and it was clear there was a problem.
“They were simply amazing at Queen Charlotte’s – words can’t describe what they did and now Nancy is a healthy, happy baby.
“It’s very difficult to say what pre-eclampsia feels like and I think that ‘being unable to describe it’ may ironically be an indication. A project like CONCEIVE could be incredibly valuable in helping to identify early risk factors for pre-eclampsia and improving awareness around the condition.”
Dr Lin Foo, clinical research fellow at Imperial College’s surgery and cancer department, will be running CONCEIVE.
She said: “This is a unique project. It is a fantastic opportunity for women to have their pregnancy and cardiovascular status documented closely as part of the study, and the data collected will be invaluable in helping our understanding of certain mechanisms associated with pre-eclampsia. By charting pregnancy from the very start and in such detail, we hope to identify factors that may be associated with the development of this disorder.”
Any women wanting to take part in the study should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07714051359