Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to other organ systems, often the kidneys. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death. By conservative estimates, these disorders are responsible for 76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths globally each year.
Uncontrolled preeclampsia is frequently associated with Caesarian section and premature birth. The total cost of preeclampsia includes the possible treatments /complications to the mom, the cost of Caesarian section, and the short-term and long-term complications to the mom and baby:
> Treatment Costs – Due to the hypertensive state, the mom and baby are more intensively monitored. A variety of medical interventions are designed to control blood pressure and benefit the baby. In some cases magnesium sulfate is administered to prevent seizures in the mother. In some cases, earlier delivery, with or without Caesarian section, is required.
> Caesarian Costs – The cost of a Caesarian section is dependent upon the gestational age of the baby (i.e., number of weeks since conception), as well as other complications. The cost could be 1.5 – 3 times more than a full-term vaginal delivery.
> Premature Birth Costs – A preeclampsia premature baby has an incremental cost of $70K (2013) according to California Medi-Cal. These costs include extended NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and first year of life costs. More complicated premature births result in long-term development issues requiring continual extensive care.
> Cost of Stroke – Stroke is the most severe preeclampsia complication resulting in long-term care needs for the mom. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. California Medi-Cal estimates that stroke care for a 25-year-old mom would be in excess of $650K.
> Emotional Costs – Attending to premature birth newborns/children results in lost work productivity for office visits and therapies. A ‘soft’ cost of preeclampsia is the emotional impact to the families including stress, allocation of attention and resources, and a high rate of divorce.
“Preeclampsia affects so many women (about 5% of pregnant women) and has so many potentially dangerous outcomes, including preterm delivery, severe hypertension, stroke, and seizures—even death of the mother in the worst-case scenario. Detecting it early and treating it well is a major global health need.”
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2014.