Preeclampsia: The Need for a Biological Definition and Diagnosis

Alex C. Vidaeff, George R. Saade, Baha M. Sibai

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The centuries-old approach to the prevention of eclampsia and its associated maternal morbidity and mortality is based on the recognition of the presence of premonitory signs and symptoms such as hypertension and proteinuria. The spectrum of preceding signs and symptoms came to be known as preeclampsia, which is debatably considered to be an early stage on a clinical continuum possibly leading to eclampsia. The premonitory signs and symptoms were then construed as diagnostic criteria for the poorly understood syndrome of preeclampsia, and this led to a perpetual debate that remains subject to wide disagreement and periodic updates. In this commentary, we will draw attention to the fact that the criteria for preeclampsia should be viewed from the prism of a screening test rather than as diagnostic of a condition in itself. Focusing research on developing better diagnostic and screening methods for what is clinically important, namely maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality from hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, a long overdue upgrade from what was possible centuries ago, will ultimately lead to better management approaches to what really matters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)976-982
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Perinatology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • biomarkers
  • definition
  • diagnosis
  • preeclampsia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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