Letter: Unproved claim on pregnancy risks

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The Independent Online
Sir: As chair of a new charity, Action on Pre-eclampsia, I must protest at the inclusion in your article 'A killer deep within the womb' (21 July) of the assertion that 'career women may be especially at risk'. The only authority for this statement appears to derive from unnamed senior midwives at one London teaching hospital who believe they have identified high-flyers working late into their first pregnancies as 'a new type of sufferer'.

The statement is unacceptable for two reasons: first, it is a totally unsubstantiated opinion offered by two or more professionals who are not even prepared to put their names to it; second, there is no validated research which suggests that a woman's career - or indeed most other aspects of her lifestyle - can influence whether or not she falls victim to pre- eclampsia.

Pre-eclampsia is a condition that is poorly understood, and hence poorly explained by doctors. In consequence, women who have suffered it often blame themselves. This tendency is exacerbated by the fact that we live in the era of the 'designer pregnancy' when women are encouraged to believe that they can control the outcome by how they live, what they eat, and so on.

In fact, many aspects of pregnancy are totally outside a woman's control - and pre-eclampsia is one of them. To suggest otherwise is to compound the considerable burden of misery and guilt that many sufferers of this disease are doomed to carry.

Yours faithfully,

ISABEL WALKER

Chair

Action on Pre-eclampsia

Abbots Langley,

Hertfordshire

22 July

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