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School of Public Health




The authors delineate seven quantum leap forward and, or revolutions having occurred during the 20th century in the understanding of the physiopathology of preeclampsia. First the discovery of the inflatable arm band permitting to measure blood pressure in 1896. Second, the discovery that eclamptic (convulsions), and later “pre”eclamptic (proteinuria) women presented hypertension in 1897 and confirmed in 1903, discovery of the hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Third, the eight major textbooks published all along the 20th century by delineating risk factors of preeclampsia with the concept of “preeclampsia, disease of primigravidae”. Fourth, the discovery in the 1970’s that human trophoblast implantation was far deeper than in other mammalian species. Fifth, and a major step forward, description at the end of the 1980’s that the maternal syndrome in preeclampsia (glomeruloendotheliosis, HELLP syndrome, eclampsia) could be unified in a global endothelial cell inflammation. Sixth, the epidemiological descriptions in the 1970–1990’s that indeed preeclampsia was a disease of first pregnancies at the level of a couple (“primipaternity concept”), leading to an explosion in immunological research in the last decade, beginning in 1998. Seventh and finally, in the search for the “factor X” explaining the vascular inflammation in preeclamptic women (inositol phospho glycans P-type were described in 2000, while soluble Flt-1 and S-endoglins have been clearly predicted since 1997). The majority of the seeds or findings have been grounded or realized in the 20th century. Indeed, for preeclampsia, the 20th century has been le “Siècle des Lumières” (the Enlightments).

Source Citation

Robillard P-Y, Dekker G, Chaouat G, Le Bouteiller P, Scioscia M, Hulsey TC. Preeclampsia and the 20th century: “Le siècle des Lumières.” Pregnancy Hypertension. 2018;13:107-109. doi:10.1016/j.preghy.2018.05.013