Preeclampsia Screening: Evidence Report and Systematic Review for the US Preventive Services Task Force

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Abstract

Importance

Preeclampsia is a complex disease of pregnancy with sometimes serious effects on maternal and infant morbidity and mortality. It is defined by hypertension after 20 weeks’ gestation and proteinuria or other evidence of multisystem involvement.

Objective

To systematically review the benefits and harms of preeclampsia screening and risk assessment for the US Preventive Services Task Force.

Data Sources

MEDLINE, PubMed, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases from 1990 through September 1, 2015. Surveillance for new evidence in targeted publications was conducted through October 5, 2016.

Study Selection

English-language trials and observational studies, including externally validated prediction models, of screening effectiveness, benefits, and harms from routine preeclampsia screening during pregnancy.

Data Extraction and Synthesis

Independent dual review of article abstracts and full texts against a priori inclusion criteria. Meta-analysis was not performed because of clinical and statistical heterogeneity of included studies.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Maternal and infant health outcomes, including eclampsia, stroke, stillbirth, preterm birth, and low birth weight; screening and risk prediction test performance; harms of screening and risk assessment.

Results

Twenty-one studies (13 982 participants) were included. No studies directly compared the effectiveness of preeclampsia screening in a screened population vs an unscreened population; 1 US trial (n = 2764) found no difference in benefits or harms with fewer prenatal visits but was underpowered for rare, serious outcomes. For harms, a before-after comparison cohort noninferiority study of urine protein screening for specific indications compared with routine screening (n = 1952) did not identify harms with fewer urine screening tests. Four studies (n = 7123) reported external validation performance of 16 risk prediction models, 5 of which had good or better discrimination (c statistic >0.80) for prediction of preeclampsia, and positive predictive values of 4% in the largest, most applicable validation cohorts. Calibration was not reported despite being a key model performance measure. There were no studies of urine screening test performance conducted in asymptomatic primary care populations; 14 studies of protein urine test performance among women being evaluated for suspected preeclampsia (n = 1888) had wide-ranging test accuracy (sensitivity, 22%-100%; specificity, 36%-100%) and high statistical and clinical heterogeneity in tests used, eligibility criteria, and proteinuria prevalence (8.7%-93.8%).

Conclusions and Relevance

Evidence to estimate benefits and harms of preeclampsia screening and the test performance of different screening approaches over the course of pregnancy was limited. Externally validated risk prediction models had limited applicability and lacked calibration and clinical implementation data needed to support routine use. Further research is needed to better inform risk-based screening approaches and improve screening strategies, given the complex pathophysiology and clinical unpredictability of preeclampsia.

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