(RxWiki News) Preeclampsia is a common cause of babies being born prematurely. But a potential new treatment may help.
A team of researchers from Saint Louis University (SLU) is currently preforming a phase III clinical trial on a drug called ATryn for the treatment of early-onset preeclampsia in pregnant women. This drug has shown promise for reducing infant mortality, improving fetal outcomes and increasing pregnancy length in previous trials.
Preeclampsia is a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and organ damage. If left untreated, preeclampsia can be fatal for both mother and baby. The only cure for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby early.
According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, this condition occurs in between 5 and 8 percent of all pregnancies worldwide. Symptoms can include swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches, changes in vision and excess protein in the urine.
ATryn is an anticoagulant typically used to prevent blood clots.
"We are trying to prolong pregnancy in the second trimester," said Erol Amon, MD, an obstetrician and professor of maternal-fetal medicine at Saint Louis University, in a press release. "We are looking to enroll women who are in their 23rd week to 30th week of pregnancy."
According to these researchers, this trial will determine whether ATryn can prolong pregnancy in mothers with early-onset preeclampsia, and reduce the rates of infant mortality and disability.
"I am treating two patients — the mother and the child," Dr. Amon said. "If we were only concerned about the health of the mother, then we would deliver immediately. However, keeping the fetus in the womb increases the opportunity for lung maturity and improves outcomes for the child."
According to Dr. Amon and colleagues, why certain pregnant women develop preeclampsia is relatively unknown. However, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and age can all affect preeclampsia risk. Women who develop this condition are also more likely to develop it again.
Pregnant mothers with early-onset preeclampsia are being offered this drug once they are stabilized. SLU enrolled its first patient in the trial this summer at St. Mary's Hospital in St. Louis, MO.