Maternal risk factors and adverse birth outcomes associated with HELLP syndrome: a population‐based study Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVES:We assessed the incidence, risk factors and adverse birth outcomes associated with elevated liver enzymes and low platelets (HELLP) syndrome. DESIGN:A retrospective population-based cohort study. SETTING:Canada (excluding Quebec), 2012/2013-2015/2016. POPULATION:Mothers with a singleton hospital live birth or stillbirth at ≥24 weeks' gestation (n = 1 078 323). METHODS:HELLP syndrome was identified using ICD-10-CA diagnostic code from delivery hospitalisation data. We used logistic regression to identify independent risk factors for HELLP syndrome by obtaining adjusted odds ratios (AOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI), and to assess the associations with adverse outcomes. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:Adverse maternal (e.g. eclampsia) and fetal/neonatal outcomes (e.g. intraventricular haemorrhage, perinatal death). RESULTS:The incidence of HELLP syndrome was 2.5 per 1000 singleton deliveries (n = 2663). Risk factors included: age ≥35 years, rural residence, nulliparity, parity ≥4, pre-pregnancy and gestational hypertension and diabetes, assisted reproduction, chronic cardiac conditions, systemic lupus erythematosus, obesity, chronic hepatic conditions, placental disorders (e.g. fetomaternal transfusion) and congenital anomalies. PROM and age <25 years were inversely associated with HELLP syndrome (P-values <0.05). Women with the syndrome had a 10-fold higher maternal mortality (95% CI 1.6-84.3) and elevated severe maternal morbidity (9.6 versus 121.7 per 1000; AOR 12.5, 95% CI 11.1-14.1); and higher perinatal mortality (4.3 versus 21.0 per 1000; AOR 4.5, 95% CI 3.5-5.9) and perinatal mortality/severe neonatal morbidity (21.2 versus 202.4 per 1000; AOR 10.7, 95% CI 9.7-11.8). CONCLUSION:HELLP syndrome is associated with specific pre-pregnancy and pregnancy risk factors, higher rates of maternal death, and substantially higher severe maternal morbidity, perinatal mortality and severe neonatal morbidity. TWEETABLE ABSTRACT:HELLP syndrome is associated with higher maternal death rate, and substantially higher severe maternal and neonatal morbidity, and perinatal mortality.


  • Lisonkova, S
  • Razaz, N
  • Sabr, Y
  • Muraca, Giulia
  • Boutin, A
  • Mayer, C
  • Joseph, KS
  • Kramer, MS

publication date

  • September 2020