Washington, DC—Thomas Gellhaus, MD, President of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), released the following statement on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) draft recommendation statement on screening for preeclampsia:
“Hypertensive disorders affect five to 10 percent of pregnancies in the United States and can lead to a number of complications, including preterm birth, maternal morbidity and mortality, and long-term risk of maternal cardiovascular disease. ACOG, the leading organization representing the nation’s obstetrician-gynecologists, has always recognized the serious implications of preeclampsia and has convened its own Hypertension in Pregnancy Task Force in the past and issued a report.
The USPSTF states that preeclampsia is associated with high blood pressure in pregnant women and recommends screening for preeclampsia with blood pressure measurements throughout pregnancy for patients without a recent diagnosis and who have no signs or symptoms of the condition. These recommendations complement ACOG’s current guidance, wherein ACOG recommends using a detailed medical history to evaluate for risk factors for predicting preeclampsia. Ob-gyns already take a woman’s blood pressure at each routine, regularly scheduled visit, along with her weight, uterine size, and the presence of fetal heart activity. However, ACOG applauds the USPSTF in recommending an evidence-based screening tool that builds upon routine prenatal care.
Early identification of pregnant women at risk of developing early-onset preeclampsia is important in order to allow referral for more intensive surveillance or the application of therapies to prevent the condition from becoming more severe. Importantly, ACOG has found there are no accurate, predictive tests at this time to determine whether a woman will develop preeclampsia and therefore continues to recommend against other methods for predicting preeclampsia. A detailed medical history and routine blood pressure measurements are the best tools available to alert ob-gyns of a potential risk.
With ACOG recently recommending an expanded list of risk factors for preeclampsia in a July Practice Advisory, including history of preeclampsia, multifetal gestation, chronic hypertension, diabetes, renal disease, and autoimmune disease, it is critical that we continually update clinical guidance to help detect and treat it as early as possible. These draft recommendations reaffirm the practices of ob-gyns across the country and will aid in the effort to help protect the health of both mom and baby.
For more information, please see ACOG’s Guidelines for Perinatal Care.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 57,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization. www.acog.org