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New Test for Detecting Preeclampsia in Pregnant Women


Posted on Nov 06, 2013

Pregnant women face a variety of health concerns. They are expected to be on high alert at all times for complications that could harm them or their baby. One such complication is preeclampsia. Doctors often have difficulty determining whether a mother has high blood pressure or preeclampsia, as the symptoms for both issues are so similar. But now there is a test that can detect preeclampsia sooner than later.

Preeclampsia is a dangerous form of high blood pressure in pregnant women. It is usually determined by looking for high levels of protein in a pregnant woman’s urine. If the condition goes untreated there can be fatal consequences for the baby as well as the mother. CBS news reports that the new test differentiates preeclampsia from high blood pressure.

CBS emphasizes the seriousness of preeclampsia, “It can damage a mother's kidneys, liver and brain but also lead to complications in the fetus, such as premature delivery, low birth weight and stillbirth, according to the study's authors. Traditional tests to diagnose it are inexact, and include monitoring high blood pressure or excess protein in urine. The researchers say those are unreliable due to poor accuracy and physician error, and can't predict the likelihood it will occur.”

 Researchers conducted a study to figure out how they could create a test to differentiate preeclampsia from high blood pressure. “The researchers were looking for presence of a protein called protein placental growth factor (PIGF) in the samples. Recent research suggests PIGF levels are abnormally low in women with preeclampsia compared to women without. If the protein levels were below 100 pg/mL, researchers said they could accurately predict the mom would develop preeclampsia. The researchers also found that if a woman's PlGF levels fell below that threshold before her 35th week of pregnancy, her baby was likely to be delivered within two weeks. Preeclampsia is only cured by delivering the baby, which could present challenges for both doctor and the mom if the condition is discovered early in the pregnancy. A woman may be put on medications, bed rest or told to frequently visit her doctor.”

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