Pre-eclampsia in low and middle income countries

Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2011 Aug;25(4):537-48. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2011.04.002. Epub 2011 May 17.


Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia are leading causes of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality worldwide. The exact prevalence, however, is unknown. The majority of pre-eclampsia related deaths in LMIC occur in the community and therefore, interventions must be focused at this level. There are a number of unique challenges facing LMIC but the principles of care for women with pre-eclampsia remain the same as in well resourced settings. Three primary delays lead to an increased incidence of maternal mortality from pre-eclampsia- delays in triage, transport and treatment. There are a number of other challenges facing LMIC and the health care worker shortage is particularly significant. Task shifting is a potential strategy to address this challenge. Community health care workers, specifically lady health care workers, are an integral part of the health care force in many LMIC and can be employed to provide timely care to women with pre-eclampsia. Prevention strategies should be applied to every pregnant woman since we cannot predict who will develop pre-eclampsia given the limitation in resources. Aspirin and calcium are the only two recommended therapies at this time. Measuring blood pressure and proteinuria is challenging in LMIC due to financial cost and lack of training. A detection tool that is affordable and can be easily applied is needed. Magnesium sulfate is the drug of choice for the prevention and treatment of eclampsia but it is underutilized due to barriers on multiple levels.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Services
  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health Services
  • Maternal Mortality
  • Pre-Eclampsia / diagnosis
  • Pre-Eclampsia / mortality*
  • Pre-Eclampsia / prevention & control*
  • Pre-Eclampsia / therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Workforce