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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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HELLP syndrome

Other Names for this Disease
  • Hemolysis, Elevated Liver Enzymes, Lowered Platelets
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Your Question

I had HELLP syndrome with my first son. He is now 9 years old. I have 2 other children. I'd like to known if there has been any research to show how the children born from a HELLP syndrome pregnancy develop. Physically my son is fine however he has language issues and doesn't process information well. He is very different from my other two children who I did not have HELLP syndrome with. All of my children have the same father also. I'm a mother trying to understand my child and best help him learn and grow.

Our Answer

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What is the long-term outlook for children whose mother had HELLP syndrome during the pregnancy?

There have been several studies investigating the short-term complications of infants born after a HELLP pregnancy; however, hardly any data are available describing the long-term follow-up of these children.[1] Furthermore, the existing data on the outcome of children of mothers with HELLP syndrome is conflicting.[2]

Some studies have suggested that neonatal and long-term prognosis for children whose mother had HELLP syndrome during the pregnancy are most strongly associated with gestational age at delivery and their birth weight. Prematurity is common (70%), and may be complicated by intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and consequences of abruptio placenta. Neonates may have a low number of white blood cells (leukopenia), neutropenia and/or thrombocytopenia, but these reportedly appear to be related specifically to IUGR, prematurity, and/or maternal hypertension. Others have argued that it does not appear that HELLP syndrome increases neonatal mortality, irrespective of gestational age.[3]

A study that followed infants to a median age of 2 years reported that 58.1% showed normal development and and 32.3% showed minor disabilities; 6% percent had moderate disabilities and 1% had major disabilities.[1]

Another study investigating the genetic status in mothers and offspring of pregnancies complicated by HELLP syndrome suggested that almost 2% of pregnancies complicated by HELLP syndrome are associated with fetal LCHAD deficiency. However, these rates may be attributable to referral bias in the study.[4]

In order to ascertain the potential effects of maternal HELLP syndrome on older children and adults, studies with a longer period of observation and a larger number of children born to mothers with HELLP syndrome are needed.[2]
Last updated: 3/22/2013

  • Roelofsen AC, van Pampus MG, Aarnoudse JG. The HELLP-syndrome; maternal-fetal outcome and follow up of infants. J Perinat Med. 2003; 31(3):201-208.
  • Kändler C et al. Prognosis of children born to mothers with HELLP-syndrome. J Perinat Med. 1998; 26(6):486-490.
  • Hye Yeon Kim et al. Neonatal Outcome after Preterm Delivery in HELLP Syndrome. Yonsei Med J. June 30, 2006; 47(3):
  • Baha M Sibai. HELLP syndrome. UpToDate. Waltham, MA:; 2013;