How does the prevalence of preeclampsia vary among different age groups and races?

Updated: Jun 12, 2018
  • Author: Michael P Carson, MD; Chief Editor: Edward H Springel, MD, FACOG  more...
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Preeclampsia is more common at the extremes of maternal age (< 18 y or >35 y). The increased prevalence of chronic hypertension and other comorbid medical illnesses in women older than 35 years may explain the increased frequency of preeclampsia among older gravidas. In addition, black women have higher rates of preeclampsia complicating their pregnancies compared with other racial groups, mainly because they have a greater prevalence of underlying chronic hypertension. Among women aged 30-39 years, chronic hypertension is present in 22.3% of black persons, 4.6% of non-Hispanic white persons, and 6.2% of Mexican Americans. Hispanic women generally have blood pressure levels that are the same as or lower than those of non-Hispanic white women.

Women who develop preeclampsia during pregnancy have an increased risk of recurrent preeclampsia during subsequent pregnancies. The overall risk is about 18%. The risk is higher (50%) in women who develop severe early preeclampsia (ie, before 27 weeks' gestation). These women are also at increased risk for cardiovascular disease later in life. Whether the preeclampsia increases cardiovascular risk or the 2 conditions share a common underlying cause remains unclear. [11]

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