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Pregnant Rural Women More at Risk

FRIDAY, Nov. 14 -- Living in a rural area may increase a woman's chance of developing preeclampsia and other pregnancy-related blood pressure disorders by 56 percent, a new study says.

The six-year study on women who gave birth in Colorado also found that those with some college education had a 19 percent great chance of having preeclampsia and pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) than those with only a high school education. The rate was also higher, but not statistically significant, for women with more than a college education.

The findings were presented at the American Society of Nephrology's recent annual meeting in Philadelphia.

Several factors, such as older age, giving birth to multiple babies and excessive weight gain, are known risk factors for preeclampsia and PIH and were validated in this new study. The ties to rural living, though, were new, and one researcher suggested it may be associated with maternal poverty and social deprivation.

"Although traditional risk factors for preeclampsia and PIH are well recognized, these diseases remain enigmatic, and there is no known effective way to reduce their incidence," lead researcher Dr. Rebecca Moore, of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, said in a news release. "Nontraditional risk factors may be of great importance in the design of future interventions to prevent the occurrence of PIH and preeclampsia, but data regarding these risk factors are scarce."

Preeclampsia causes rapid increases in blood pressure, along with kidney damage. Although it's a very common condition and the third most common cause of maternal death in the United States, its cause is unknown. It has no cure, but it usually resolves after delivery.

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Posted: November 2008

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