Hannele Laivuori: Pre-eclampsia is major challenge in obstetrics
According to Laivuori, three percent of Finnish pregnant women develop pre-eclampsia, which is a major cause of premature birth. Reasons for the development of the disease are not yet precisely known, but we do know that, among other things, it increases the risk that the mother or child will later develop a cardiovascular disease.
Laivuori and her research team have collected the exceptionally extensive FINNPEC cohort comprising health data and DNA samples in order to study the significance of the genome in the development of the disease.
"All university hospitals in Finland took part in the collection of the cohort. Expectant mothers who had developed pre-eclampsia, their spouses, and pregnant controls were recruited for the study. The research provided the first indications of specific gene variations that offer protection against the disease."
The research material was also used in the InterPregGen project, which is the largest international project aimed at identifying the pre-eclampsia susceptibility genes to date. As a result of the project, the first gene variation in the fetal genome that increases the mother’s risk to develop pre-eclampsia was identified.
"Recovery from pre-eclampsia begins soon after childbirth, but the disease remains significant to the later health of both the mother and child. Genetic data may help us provide more individualized risk assessments and allocate preventive measures more effectively. By studying the genetic makeup, we can learn to better understand the causes of this complex complication of pregnancy."