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Researcher Hopes To Discover New Clues To Better Treat Preeclampsia

A researcher and her team at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), Jennifer Mcintosh, DO, MS is striving to uncover new clues in effort to better treat preeclampsia – a condition in which an expecting mother suffers from high blood pressure, swelling, and protein in the urine. Currently both oral and IV medications can manage the condition until the baby is developed enough to be born, but unfortunately, delivery is the only “cure”. This can lead to premature births and poor survival outcomes for both the mother and newborn.

Even after the newborn is delivered there are potentially long-term health consequences which could plague both the mother and newborn. The mother is at a higher risk for having heart attacks or strokes or developing high blood pressure later in life while the baby is more likely to develop high blood pressure earlier on. Each year, pregnancy disorders such as preeclampsia cause an estimated 50,000 deaths worldwide.

Given how little is known about how the disease develops and the wide-ranging consequences the disease can have on patients, MCW has built the Maternal Research, Placenta, and Cord Blood Bank in order to facilitate collection and analysis of placenta, maternal umbilical cord blood samples to assist Dr. McIntosh and other MCW researchers. In addition to Dr. McIntosh, there are about a dozen researchers working in teams utilizing these samples to improve knowledge in the field of obstetrics. Expecting mothers are approached during their regular pregnancy checks and then again when they present for labor and delivery. For her particular studies, samples are used to study how the blood vessels work in the placenta and to show how patients suffering from preeclampsia compare to individuals not suffering from preeclampsia.

She and her team, which includes Dr. Nicole Lohr, MD, PhD and Dr. Jacqueline Kulinski hopes that the analysis of the various samples will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms which cause preeclampsia as well as shed light on potentially new treatment options to better manage the condition in the future.

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