The Familial Factor in Toxemia of Pregnancy by Leon C. Chesley, John Annitto, and Robert A. Cosgrove
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In the 1950s and 1960s, researchers Leon Chesley, John Annitto, and Robert Cosgrove investigated the possible familial factor for the conditions of preeclampsia and eclampsia in pregnant women. Preeclampsia and eclampsia, which are related to high blood pressure, have unknown causes and affect at least five percent of all pregnancies. The researchers, who worked at Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital in Jersey City, New Jersey, used hospital patient records to find and reexamine women who had eclampsia at the hospital, as well as their daughters, sisters, daughters-in-law, and granddaughters. Chesley and colleagues found that the daughters and granddaughters of eclamptic women were more likely than the female offspring of non-eclamptic women to have preeclampsia and eclampsia in their own pregnancies, and especially in their first pregnancies. The study provided evidence that the disorders are inherited, enabling physicians to better monitor pregnancies in women who have a known family history for preeclampsia and eclampsia.