For most women, the first pregnancy is a joyous time that they will remember with tenderness for the rest of their lives. But for 5 % of all pregnant women around the world, the journey towards childbirth takes an unexpected turn for the worse. The culprit is a disorder that many young women expecting their first child have never heard of, a disease that kills 59 000 and affects approximately 800 000 women every year globally. Pre-eclampsia can go undetected until it’s too late, leading to complications of the liver and lungs or even to convulsion and stroke. It is characterised by high blood pressure and protein in urine, and the only known treatment is the delivery of the baby and the placenta. ‘If the disease occurs early in the pregnancy, the baby is born prematurely with various complications of low birth weight, incomplete organ maturation, blindness and motor and cognitive complications,’ said Hamutal Meiri, from the EU-backed project ASPRE with the company Hylabs Diagnostics, in Rehovot, Israel.

The multinational ASPRE team has paved the way for the roll-out of a preventive treatment targeting women at risk of developing pre-eclampsia early in the pregnancy, known as ‘pre-term pre-eclampsia’, when its occurrence is more dangerous and the prognosis mostly dire. The treatment is based on one simple ingredient, aspirin…..more