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Updated NICE pre-eclampsia guidance

Published on 27/07/22 at 09:00am

New NICE guidance has been released, recommending the routine use of placental growth factor (PIGF), based on testing in the NHS to help diagnose pre-eclampsia, a potentially fatal condition.

Pre-eclampsia is a condition affecting up to one in ten pregnancies, and can lead to serious complications for both mother and baby if not monitored and treated. Early signs can include high blood pressure and protein in urine, with symptoms including severe headache, vision problems, pain just below the ribs, nausea or vomiting, or sudden swelling of the hands, feet or face. 

Marcus Green, Chief Executive Officer of Action on Pre-eclampsia commented:

“Pregnancy can be both a joyous and anxious time, and improving early diagnosis of pre-eclampsia is essential so that mothers and babies can get the care they need. We’re pleased to see this vital new NICE guidance which we hope will have a significant impact on expectant families in England and Wales both by giving them and their clinicians reassurance, or escalating care when needed. But it can’t stop there – there is a postcode lottery that means some trusts are yet to take this up, and nationally implementation is patchy. This has to end.”

The move represents a major milestone in maternal care, and assists clinicians in confidently diagnosing the condition and reducing unnecessary hospitalisations.

“This sends a clear message that PlGF-based testing for pre-eclampsia should be available in every hospital in England and Wales, helping to remove health inequalities between regions. We now have the evidence to show that PlGF-based testing can help rule in pre-eclampsia, as well as rule it out,” said Professor Jenny Myers, Clinical Professor at Manchester Maternal & Fetal Health Research Centre.

“As clinicians, this will help ensure those with pre-eclampsia are on the right surveillance path, and those without pre-eclampsia can safely go home. I see it making a huge difference to patients and clinicians every day in my NHS Trust, and I’d like to see every maternity unit in the UK have access to PlGF-based testing and the benefits it can bring.”

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