pregnant individual in a hospital gown; pregnant individual having blood pressure taken; hospital emergency sign

The Risks of Preeclampsia in Pregnancy

  • Preeclampsia is a common and dangerous complication of pregnancy that causes high blood pressure and excess protein in urine1 . Preeclampsia can result in  premature birth, fluid in the lungs, bleeding problems, liver or kidney damage, seizures, stroke and even death2.
  • The life expectancy of people who develop preterm preeclampsia is reduced by an average of 10 years3.
  • Preeclampsia is one of the leading causes of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality4

Preeclampsia Prevalence

  • Pre-eclampsia affects 2% to 8% of all pregnancies globally4.
  • Based on BORN’s data collection, the prevalence of preeclampsia in Ontario is 3.9-4.4%5

Prediction and Prevention

  • Multi-factor early-pregnancy screening for preeclampsia can identify most women and birthing individuals at risk, particularly of early-onset, severe disease6.
  • Taking low-dose aspirin can prevent 80%-94% of early-onset, severe preeclampsia6.

Care-Gap in Canada

  • Most pregnant people in Canada do not have access to preeclampsia screening and a large majority are not offered low-dose aspirin when indicated6.
  • In Ontario there is no standardized way of assessing the risk of pre-eclampsia

Physician writing notes across from a patient; aspirin; pregnant person


  • A 2022 Ontario Health Technology Assessment concluded that a new screening technique, developed by the Fetal Medicine Foundation (“the FMF algorithm), is more effective than standard care in reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia with delivery at less than 37 weeks' gestation.
  • Consideration should be given to multifactorial early-pregnancy screening for preeclampsia, as well as a timely initiation of low-dose aspirin in people who are identified to be at risk6.


BORN-Prenatal Screening Ontario Response

  • In spring 2023, Prenatal Screening Ontario (PSO) established an expert task force to explore implementation considerations should this screening be made available in Ontario.
  • The task force identified important factors for guiding systematic screening efforts, including equitable implementation of screening at the provincial level. The group also analyzed options and alternatives (i.e. a modified FMF algorithm).
  • As a result of the collaboration, PSO now has consolidated guidance from a wide range of experts in Ontario and Quebec.
  • BORN and PSO, in conjunction with partners at the Ministry of Health, are assessing next steps and are committed to reducing the risk of preterm preeclampsia for pregnant Ontarians.