WASHINGTON, April 25 (Xinhua) -- All pregnant women should be screened with blood pressure measurements for preeclampsia throughout pregnancy, an influential U.S. panel recommended Tuesday.
This final recommendation applies to pregnant women without a current diagnosis of preeclampsia and with no signs or symptoms of preeclampsia or hypertension, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said.
Preeclampsia is associated with high blood pressure in pregnant women after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It is one of the most serious health problems affecting pregnant women and is a leading cause of preterm delivery and low birth weight in the U.S.
"Preeclampsia can progress quickly and lead to severe complications for both the mother and infant," said Task Force member Maureen Phipps of the Brown University. "It is critical that women be screened for preeclampsia during every clinical visit throughout their pregnancy."
After reviewing existing evidence, the task force concluded that blood pressure screening has a "substantial net benefit."
Complications from preeclampsia for the mother can include stroke, seizures and organ failure, accoriding to the panel.
Complications for the infant include slow growth inside the uterus, low birth weight, placental abruption, preterm labor and even death, it said.
The only way to completely treat the condition is to deliver the baby, and often before the baby's due date, if the condition worsens.
"If a pregnant woman has high blood pressure during a clinical visit, she should receive further testing and evaluation," said Task Force vice chair David Grossman of the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. "Several high blood pressure measurements are needed to diagnose preeclampsia."
The panel's recommendation has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The task force is an independent, volunteer panel of experts that makes recommendations about the effectiveness of specific preventive care services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications.