Coagulation problems in pregnancy are primarily associated with overactivity of the intrinsic clotting system. This accounts for the increased incidence of thrombo-embolism during pregnancy. Where specific obstetric complications cause clotting problems the common underlying feature is usually placental pathology as in abruptio placentae, pre-eclampsia or hydatidiform mole. Abnormal activation of the clotting system is an early, and occasionally the first detectable feature of pre-eclampsia, but there is no evidence that this is a primary change. Therefore the role of anticoagulant treatment in the management of pre-eclampsia remains questionable. A new test for estimating factor VIII consumption is proving to be a sensitive index of early activation of the clotting system and can be used for the diagnosis of early pre-eclampsia.
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