Pre-eclampsia Breakthrough: Reflux Tablet Could Save Women’s Lives

Researchers have stumbled on a possible treatment for a deadly pregnancy complication, which kills 60,000 women and babies each year.

premature baby mum

Australian researchers say they’ve discovered a common reflux drug could hold the key to treating pre-eclampsia.

‘Astonishing’ discovery

The international study, led by the Translational Obstetrics Group (TOG) based at Victoria’s Mercy Hospital for Women, stumbled upon the reflux medication breakthrough.

“We were astonished to find these common drugs switch off the production of toxins from the preeclamptic placenta and protect blood vessels from further injury,” senior study author Dr Natalie Hannan said.

“Effectively, the team has identified one drug with dual actions that may powerfully counter the effects of preeclampsia”, Professor Stephen Tong, head of TOG, added.

Pregnant woman having her blood pressure checked by the doctor

Pre-eclampsia is caused when toxins are released by the pre-eclamptic placenta, and then spread through the mum-to-be’s body. The toxins then damage the woman’s major organs, and the only treatment is to deliver the baby. This often leads to premature babies being delivered in a bid to save the mother’s life.

Australian trials planned

The team has already initiated a major clinical trial, which is based in South Africa, because it has a very high rate of pre-eclampsia. The trial, which is testing the use of Nexium on women who have been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia in very early pregnancy.

The findings from that trial will be known this year, and there are also trials planned for Australia.

“If proton pump inhibitors can reduce the burden of preeclampsia, it could save the lives of thousands of mothers and babies globally,” Prof Tong said.

premature baby

It’s yet another significant breakthrough, after another research program created a simple blood test that can predict if a woman will develop pre-eclampsia.

Make sure you have a read of the four rules to follow to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

written by:

Anita Butterworth

Anita is a journo from country Victoria who swapped the cut and thrust of television news for the joys of raising boys. When not writing about everything parenting, she's searching for the perfect cuppa and Instagram filter.