Objective: The aim of our study was to determine if an elevated plasma homocysteine level in early pregnancy is associated with the development of severe preeclampsia.
Study design: Blood samples were obtained from patients attending their first antenatal visit. Cases were asymptomatic women who subsequently developed severe preeclampsia. Controls were matched for gestational age and date of sample collection. Plasma homocysteine level was measured by using fluorescence polarization immunoassay.
Results: There were 56 patients with severe preeclampsia from whom blood samples were obtained at a mean (+/-SD) gestation of 15.3 weeks (+/-4.04 weeks) and 112 controls at 14.9 weeks (+/-3.41 weeks). The preeclampsia cases had a mean (+/-SD) homocysteine level of 9.8 micromol/L (+/-3.3 micromol/L), whereas controls had a mean homocysteine level of 8.4 micromol/L (+/-1.9 micromol/L), P < or = .0001.
Conclusion: Women who develop severe preeclampsia have higher plasma homocysteine levels in early pregnancy than women who remain normotensive throughout pregnancy. An elevated plasma homocysteine level in early pregnancy can increase the risk of developing severe preeclampsia by almost threefold.