HELLP Syndrome

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Key points

  • There has been no comprehensive study of the risk factors for HELLP syndrome
  • There is debate about the optimal management of women who develop the syndrome prior to 34 weeks of gestation when the maternal and fetal status is reassuring and there is some controversy regarding risk factors for adverse outcome.
  • This study will estimate the incidence of HELLP syndrome in the UK and will investigate and quantify the associated risk factors, management and outcomes and will also explore whether any factors are associated with poor outcomes.

Surveillance Period

June 2011-May 2012

Background

HELLP syndrome is a serious complication of pregnancy characterised by haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and a low platelet count[1]. Incidence estimates vary from 0.5 to 7.6 per 1000 deliveries[2][3]and between 8% and 24% of cases with severe preeclampsia/eclampsia[3][4]. Although there have been reports that women with HELLP syndrome are more likely to be older, of white ethnicity and multiparous[5][6][7] and the majority, although not all, have signs of preeclampsia[7][8], there has been no comprehensive study of the risk factors for this complication.

There is a consensus that prompt delivery is indicated when HELLP syndrome develops after 34 weeks of gestation or when fetal or maternal conditions deteriorate. However, there is debate about the optimal management of women who develop the syndrome prior to 34 weeks of gestation when the maternal and fetal status is reassuring. There is also some controversy regarding risk factors for adverse outcome. This study aims to estimate the incidence of HELLP syndrome in the UK, to investigate and quantify the associated risk factors, management and outcomes and to explore whether any factors are associated with poor outcomes.

Case definition

All pregnant women identified as having HELLP syndrome defined as new onset of the following:

Elevated liver enzymes, defined as:

Serum aspartate aminotransferase (AST) ?70 U/L

OR

Gamma-glutamyltransferase (?-GT) ?70 U/L

OR

Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) ?70 U/L

AND

Low platelets, defined as platelet count < 100 x109/l.

AND

EITHER

Haemolysis, defined by abnormal peripheral blood smear or serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels ?600 U/L or total bilirubin ?20.5 ┬Ámol/l

OR

Hypertension, defined as a systolic blood pressure ? 140 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure ? 90 mmHg

OR

Proteinuria, defined as 1+ (0.3 g/l) or more on dipstick testing, a protein:creatinine ratio of 30 mg/mmol or more on a random sample, or a urine protein excretion of 300 mg or more per 24 hours

Research questions

  • What is the incidence of HELLP syndrome in the UK?
  • What are the risk factors for HELLP syndrome?
  • How is HELLP syndrome managed in the UK?
  • What are the outcomes for mother and infant?
  • Are there any factors that are associated with poor outcomes?

Investigators

Kate Fitzpatrick, Marian Knight, Jenny Kurinczuk, Peter Brocklehurst, Maria Quigley, NPEU;

Sue Sellers, United Bristol Hospitals NHS Trust; Mervi Jokinnen, RCM;

Shona Golightly, CMACE; Gwyneth Lewis, Department of Health;

James Walker, NPSA; Alison Burton, Oxfordshire PCT; Jenny Furniss, Lay representative.

Funding

Logo: UKNeS - The National Maternal Near-miss Surveillance Programme

This study has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research as part of the new UK National Maternal Near-miss Surveillance Programme (UKNeS).

Ethics committee approval

This study has been approved by the North London REC1 (Study Reference Number 10/H0717/20)

Download the Data Collection Form (DCF)

UKOSS HELLP Syndrome Case Form

UKOSS HELLP Syndrome Control Form

References

  1. ^ Weinstein, L., Syndrome of hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count: a severe consequence of hypertension in pregnancy. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1982.142(2): p. 159-67.
  2. ^ Waterstone, M., S. Bewley, and C. Wolfe,Incidence and predictors of severe obstetric morbidity: case-control study. BMJ, 2001.322(7294): p. 1089-93; discussion 1093-4.
  3. a, b Martin, J.N., Jr., et al., The spectrum of severe preeclampsia: comparative analysis by HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzyme levels, and low platelet count) syndrome classification. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1999.180(6 Pt 1): p. 1373-84.
  4. ^ Gasem, T., et al., Maternal and fetal outcome of pregnancy complicated by HELLP syndrome. Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 2009.22(12): p. 1140-3.
  5. ^ Sibai, B.M., et al., Maternal-perinatal outcome associated with the syndrome of hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets in severe preeclampsia-eclampsia. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1986.155(3): p. 501-9.
  6. ^ Sibai, B.M., The HELLP syndrome (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets): much ado about nothing? American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1990.162(2): p. 311-6.
  7. a, b Audibert, F., et al., Clinical utility of strict diagnostic criteria for the HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets) syndrome. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1996.175(2): p. 460-4.
  8. ^ Sibai, B.M., Diagnosis, controversies, and management of the syndrome of hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2004. 103(5 Pt 1): p. 981-91.

Updated: Tuesday, 07 July 2020 14:35 (v14)