Perhaps no disease of pregnancy has been more thoroughly studied than pre-eclampsia (PE), and yet despite all of our efforts we are only beginning to understand the molecular mechanisms which underpin the disease. Many people are surprised by the frequency of PE in the population, as it is believed to occur in approximately one pregnancy out of 20 in the United States, with similar rates throughout the developed world. In severe cases the disorder can progress to eclampsia, which is characterized by maternal seizures and can lead to death. PE can only be treated by ending the pregnancy, often by inducing labour prior to term, making PE a leading cause of premature birth and all of the associated health complications which accompany it. All in all, PE is one of the leading causes of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. It is now also becoming apparent that PE disposes both the mother and the baby to increased risk of cardiovascular disease throughout life, meaning that we still don't fully understand the long-term implications of the disease.

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