By Shahfizal Musa
Pix Courtesy of UKM Medical Faculty
KUALA LUMPUR, 27 April 2012 - A group of four final year medical students from The National University of Malaysia (UKM) have made history with a discovery that can prevent hypertension in pregnancy.
The discovery said to be the first in the world was made by Dr Noorfaizahtul Hanim binti Md. Nawawi, Dr Lim Jing Fen, Dr Melissha binti Luqman and Dr Faizuddin bin Zoklkeplai. They graduated earlier this month.
The discovery has been accepted for publication in a high indexed international journal, a statement by the supervisor of the students, the Deputy Dean of Graduate Studies of the Faculty of Medicine UKM, Prof Dr Zainul Rashid bin Mohamad Razi said today.
Prof Zainul Rashid said hypertension in pregnancy is still one of the main causes of maternal death all over the world.
“Women in their first pregnancy are more susceptible to develop hypertension with an incidence of between 10% to 15%. Many methods have been tried to prevent this condition such as supplementation with aspirin, zinc, Vitamin E and anti-oxidants. However, to date, none of these methods have proven to be successful.
“Thus, the only method to reduce the morbidity of this condition is to control the blood pressure when it appears in pregnancy to buy time for the baby to be more matured for delivery.
“This, however, exposed the mother to all the complications of hypertension in pregnancy such as eclamptic fits, bleeding due to placental separation, premature delivery as well as maternal and fetal death,” Prof Zainul Rashid said.
The group who were then in their 4th year of studies were doing research on mothers in their first pregnancy following IVF. They noted that the incidence of hypertension among the mothers were very low compared to other mothers in their first pregnancy who conceived spontaneously.
Prof Zainul Rashid said the only difference were that the mothers who conceived by IVF were supplemented with a progestogen hormone, dydrogesterone for the first 16 weeks of their pregnancy. From 116 mothers who conceived by IVF, only two(1.7%) developed hypertension in pregnancy as compared to 15(12.9%) in 116 other women who conceived spontaneously.
Prof Zainul Rashid the difference was very significant statistically.
“With this finding, it is now possible to reduce the incidence of hypertension in first pregnancies thus further reducing maternal mortality due to this condition by taking the hormone dydrogesterone during the early part of their pregnancies.
“Further studies will be performed by other students in the UKM Medical Faculty on other pregnant mothers who are at high risk of developing hypertension in pregnancy such as twin pregnancies, obese and mothers older than 35 years,” Prof Zainul Rashid said.
The students took 1 year 10 months to complete their studies, which was one of the requirements for UKM medical students to pass their medical course.
The newly qualified doctors will receive a prize of RM1000.00 each for their discovery from Prof Dr Zaleha Mahdy, the Deputy Dean of Undergraduate Studies of the Faculty at a special ceremony at the Faculty.