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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

HELLP syndrome


Other Names for this Disease
  • Hemolysis, Elevated Liver Enzymes, Lowered Platelets
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Your Question

My mother had HELLP syndrome. Is this condition genetic? Am I at high risk of getting HELLP syndrome when I get pregnant?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

Is HELLP syndrome inherited?

A variety of genetic factors (both in the mother and fetus) have been found to play a role in the development of preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome.[1] However, the condition is likely multifactorial. This means that several genetic and environmental factors likely interact to cause HELLP syndrome, and no one gene is thought to be responsible for the condition.

Some women may have a genetic predisposition to developing preeclampsia and related conditions, such as HELLP syndrome. This means that certain genetic factors increase a woman's risk to develop HELLP syndrome. However, many women with a genetic predisposition will never develop HELLP syndrome.
Last updated: 5/2/2016

What causes HELLP syndrome?

The cause of HELLP syndrome is unclear.[2][3] Although it is more common in women who have preeclampsia or pregnancy induced hypertension (high blood pressure during pregnancy), some women develop HELLP syndrome without showing signs of these conditions.[4][5]

The following risk factors may increase a woman's chance to develop HELLP syndrome:[2][5]

  • Having a previous pregnancy with HELLP syndrome
  • Having preeclampsia or pregnancy induced hypertension
  • Being over age 25
  • Being Caucasian
  • Multiparous (given birth 2 or more times)
In less than 2 percent of women with HELLP syndrome, the underlying cause appears to be related to LCHAD deficiency in the fetus.[3]
Last updated: 5/2/2016

If my mother had HELLP syndrome, am I at a high risk to develop it during my pregnancy?

While genetic factors are believed to be involved in the development of HELLP syndrome, their exact role is not fully understood. In addition, there are many other potential risk factors involved. Individuals interested in learning about their specific risksshould discuss their family history and other concerns with an OB/GYN or a genetics professional.
Last updated: 7/20/2011

How can I find a genetics professional in my area?

Genetics clinics are a source of information for people and families with a genetic condition. More information about genetic consultations is available from Genetics Home Reference. To find a genetics clinic, we recommend that you contact your primary healthcare provider for a referral.

The following online resources can help you find a genetics professional in your community:
  • The National Society of Genetic Counselors provides a database of genetics counseling services, searchable by location, name, institution, type of practice, or specialty.
  • The University of Kansas Medical Center provides a list of links to genetic centers and clinics, associations, and university genetics departments.
  • The American College of Medical Genetics has a Genetics Clinics Database for individuals who wish to locate a U.S. genetics center.
  • The American Society of Human Genetics is a professional organization of researchers and clinical geneticists. The ASHG maintains a database of its members, some of whom live outside of the United States. Visit the ASHG site if you are interested in obtaining a list of the geneticists in your country, though some may be researchers only and may not offer medical care.
Last updated: 2/6/2015

References
Other Names for this Disease
  • Hemolysis, Elevated Liver Enzymes, Lowered Platelets
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.