New Test for Preeclampsia Will Change the Lives of Millions of Women

7 years ago

Preeclampsia, a life-threatening pregnancy condition, usually comes on with little warning. Up until now, there was no way to predict whether the high blood pressure experienced by a large portion of pregnant women would develop into the more serious condition, necessitating the premature delivery of the infant, until the mother was already moving into dangerous health areas. But researchers at the University of Alberta have "uncovered an accurate way to predict whether a pregnant woman will develop pre-eclampsia, a dangerous condition that can kill both the mother and baby."

A blood test can now predict at 15-weeks up to 90% of women who may develop preeclampsia down the road. According to the Mayo Clinic,

Preeclampsia is a condition of pregnancy marked by high blood pressure and excess protein in your urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Preeclampsia often causes only modest increases in blood pressure. Left untreated, however, preeclampsia can lead to serious — even fatal — complications for both you and your baby.

The reality is that once a woman has already experienced preeclampsia in a prior pregnancy, due to the high rate of recurrence, she can be monitored closely in subsequent pregnancies and sometimes avoid preeclampsia entirely. Yet it isn't feasible for every pregnancy to be treated as if it might become a problematic pregnancy until signs of preeclampsia have already been shown. Therefore, this test allows doctors to know during a first pregnancy whether it's likely a woman will develop preeclampsia down the road, and treat them with the same care used to avoid preeclampsia in subsequent pregnancies. The test is still a few years away from wide-spread use.

As one researcher says,

"We understand the process now," said Baker, the senior author of the study. "What we've really lacked is a way of predicting who is going to get the condition."

To learn more about the development of this new test, please watch this video from the Canadian news.

Must Read Stories

In order to understand preeclampsia, and the possibly devastating affects on both mother and child, please peruse these must-read posts:

  • Uppercase Woman: lost her twin sons to the sudden on-set of preeclampsia several months into the pregnancy. Her husband writes, "We were also confronted with a staggering array of potential outcomes facing Cecily if we chose to attempt the impossible ... ranging from liver damage and kidney failure to stroke and brain damage."
  • A Little Pregnant: delivered her son, Charlie, at 29-weeks due to HELLP syndrome, a variant of preeclampsia.
  • A Ruby Family: writes about Nolan's birth and death, as well as saving her own life after the sudden onset of HELLP syndrome.
  • Little Bluebirds Fly: removed a lot of her blog content, but kept up preeclampsia information because it's so damn important for people searching for answers. She writes, "It’s not a condition of the baby. Preeclampsia certainly affects the baby; it can cause IUGR or low amniotic fluid or, obviously, prematurity and death. But it’s not a condition of the baby. It’s a condition of the mother."
  • Mrs. Spit ... Still Spouting Off: had her son, Gabriel, die after he was born at 26 weeks. She works tirelessly to educate the public about the dangers of preeclampsia, and compiled information in this illuminating post on her blog.
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