Objective: Preeclampsia, with an onset before 24 weeks' gestation is a rare but severe condition in pregnancy with little data of maternal and perinatal outcome, particularly after expectant management. We therefore, evaluated pregnancy outcome in these women at our department where temporising management was introduced as the standard policy in early onset preeclampsia.
Study design: We analysed retrospectively all consecutive women with preeclampsia, with an onset before 24 weeks' gestation, between 1 January 1993 and 31 December 2002 at a tertiary university referral center.
Results: Twenty-six pregnancies, of which two were twin pregnancies, resulted in 65% of the women in at least one major maternal complication: maternal death (n=1), HELLP syndrome (n=16), eclampsia (n=5) and pulmonary edema (n=4). Thirty percent of these women presented already with serious morbidity at admission. The median prolongation of the pregnancy was 24 days (range 3-46 days). The overall perinatal mortality was 82%: 19 fetal deaths and 4 neonatal deaths.
Conclusion: Early onset preeclampsia, with an onset before 24 weeks' gestation, results in considerable maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. Therefore, expectant management should not be considered as a routine treatment option in these patients.