Antenatal blood pressure for prediction of pre-eclampsia, preterm birth, and small for gestational age babies: development and validation in two general population cohorts

Study question Can routine antenatal blood pressure measurements between 20 and 36 weeks’ gestation contribute to the prediction of pre-eclampsia and its associated adverse outcomes?

Methods This study used repeated antenatal measurements of blood pressure from 12 996 women in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) to develop prediction models and validated these in 3005 women from the Southampton Women’s Survey (SWS). A model based on maternal early pregnancy characteristics only (BMI, height, age, parity, smoking, existing and previous gestational hypertension and diabetes, and ethnicity) plus initial mean arterial pressure was compared with a model additionally including current mean arterial pressure, a model including the deviation of current mean arterial pressure from a stratified normogram, and a model including both at different gestational ages from 20-36 weeks.

Study answer and limitations The addition of blood pressure measurements from 28 weeks onwards improved prediction models compared with use of early pregnancy risk factors alone, but they contributed little to the prediction of preterm birth or small for gestational age. Though multiple imputation of missing data was used to increase the sample size and minimise selection bias, the validation sample might have been slightly underpowered as the number of cases of pre-eclampsia was just below the recommended 100. Several risk factors were self reported, potentially introducing measurement error, but this reflects how information would be obtained in clinical practice.

What this study adds The addition of routinely collected blood pressure measurements from 28 weeks onwards improves predictive models for pre-eclampsia based on blood pressure in early pregnancy and other characteristics, facilitating a reduction in scheduled antenatal care.

Funding, competing interests, data sharing UK Wellcome Trust, US National Institutes of Health, and UK Medical Research Council. Other funding sources for authors are detailed in the full online paper. With the exceptions of CM-W, HMI, and KMG there were no competing interests.

Corrie Macdonald-Wallis et al, BMJ 2015;351:h5948

 

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