Pregnancy is difficult enough without complications. We all want those 9 months to sail by smoothly, without a hiccup, but unfortunately for some life isn't that simple. While the exact figures aren't known, it's thought that around 3.4% of women in the US suffer from preeclampsia, a scary condition in which high blood pressure can cause serious issues for both mother and baby. In the most severe cases, complications can include stroke and seizures. Previously, the only known way to cure the condition was to deliver the baby at the safest earliest point, but now researchers believe that a heartburn drug could be the solution.
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The team from Melbourne's Mercy Hospital have been looking into ways to put a stop to the condition which kills around 70,000 women every year worldwide. Dr. Natalie Hannan and her team say that Nexium, a common drug used to treat reflux, could be the answer to an otherwise unsolvable problem. She calls the revelation exciting, meaning babies with preeclamptic mothers could be able to stay in the womb longer with no risks. In the majority of cases the diagnosis for preeclampsia doesn't come until the middle of pregnancy, giving doctors little choice but to deliver babies earlier to save the mother.
With this revelation, she hopes that the mother will be able to have a longer, safer pregnancy. As we all know, the longer you carry a baby the better prepared they'll be for life on the other side. According to Hannan, the discovery was an accident. They happened to stumble upon research that indicated the reflux drug produced an antioxidant response in the stomach. Once they knew that, they were able to see how it could work with preeclampsia patients. By injecting infected cells into the bloodstream of small animals, they discovered that they could block proteins to protect the mother, even preventing the disease from becoming more serious in those already affected.
Trials are now set to move to South Africa, where they have high rates of the disease. They expect the results by the end of the year.
Did you suffer from preeclampsia? Let us know your story in the comments.