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Keywords:

  • preeclampsia;
  • screening;
  • ethics;
  • guidelines

ABSTRACT

The implementation of new methods of treating and preventing disease raises many question of both technical and moral character. Currently, many studies focus on developing a screening test for preeclampsia (PE), a disease complicating 2–8% of pregnancies, potentially causing severe consequences for pregnant women and their fetuses. The purpose is to develop a test that can identify pregnancies at high risk for developing PE sufficiently early in pregnancy to allow for prophylaxis. However, the question of implementing a screening test for PE does not only involve an evaluation of technical feasibility and clinical efficacy, it also requires an analysis of how the test influences the conditions and choices for those tested. This study evaluates state-of-the-art techniques for preeclampsia screening in an ethical framework, pointing out the central areas of moral relevance within the context of such screening activity. Furthermore, we propose ethical guidelines that a screening programme for PE should meet in order to become an uncontroversial addition to prenatal health care.