New Blood Tests May Predict and Manage Dangerous Pregnancy Complication Preeclampsia


(AP) – Expectant parents hope for smooth pregnancies, but approximately one in 20 face a daunting challenge: preeclampsia. This high blood pressure disorder kills 70,000 women and 500,000 babies worldwide annually. Until now, predicting its onset was impossible. New blood tests, however, offer hope for early detection and management.

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“When complications arise in pregnancy, early detection is key to preventing adverse outcomes for both mother and baby,” said Dr. S. Ananth Karumanchi of Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.

Understanding Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia can affect both the mother and baby during the second half of pregnancy or the postpartum period. Its exact causes remain unknown. Symptoms include high blood pressure, protein in the urine, severe headaches, vision changes, nausea, and sudden swelling of the face and hands. Diagnosis typically involves urine protein tests, blood pressure monitoring, and additional tests if necessary.

The condition can escalate rapidly, leading to organ damage, stroke, preterm birth, and slow fetal growth. To mitigate risks, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends low-dose aspirin for pregnant patients with specific risk factors, such as chronic high blood pressure, pre-existing diabetes, or kidney disease.

New Testing Advancements
Recent developments in blood tests can measure biomarkers for preeclampsia, providing objective insights into the condition. Currently, there are a few available tests:

Labcorp Test (11-14 weeks gestation): Measures early pregnancy biomarkers to assess the risk of developing preeclampsia before 34 weeks.
Labcorp and Thermo Fisher Scientific Tests: Used in the second and third trimesters for hospitalized patients to evaluate the risk of severe preeclampsia progression within weeks.
More tests are in development, promising further advancements.

“These tests represent significant progress, especially given the lack of new developments in preeclampsia over the past decades,” said Eleni Tsigas, CEO of the Preeclampsia Foundation. Tsigas, who experienced undiagnosed preeclampsia resulting in the loss of one baby and serious health risks for herself, welcomed the new tests as essential tools for doctors.

Should You Consider Testing?
According to Tsigas, the new tests offer valuable insights and reassurance, particularly for those at higher risk. While there is no immediate therapy, close monitoring and follow-ups for high-risk patients can be lifesaving. For those at low risk, the tests provide peace of mind.

“These tests could also accelerate the development of new treatments by identifying high-risk patients for clinical studies,” noted Karumanchi.

Despite the newness of these tests, Tsigas advocates for their immediate use. “Considering the high mortality and morbidity rates associated with preeclampsia, we clearly have work to do,” she said. “Adding tools to an almost empty toolbox is crucial.”

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

By Naija247news
By Naija247news
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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