Pre-eclampsia, usually diagnosed by increased blood pressure and protein in urine, affects up to 5% of pregnant women. It contributes worldwide to the death of estimated 50 000 women and up to one million babies annually. The condition is also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases among mothers and their children later in life. There is an inherited risk, with women with a family history of pre-eclampsia at greater risk of developing the condition themselves.
In the InterPregGen study, researchers from the UK, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan studied how maternal genetic variation influences the risk of pre-eclampsia. The team studied the genetic make-up of 9,515 pre-eclamptic women and 157,719 control individuals.
The results, reported today in Nature Communications, pinpointed DNA variants in the ZNF831 and FTO genes as risk factors for pre-eclampsia. These genes have previously been associated with blood pressure, and the FTO