New Study Heralds Use of Blood Biomarkers to Predict Preeclampsia

November 17, 2009

NEW YORK, November 17 /PRNewswire/ — A new study that examines the value
of maternal blood biomarkers will help identify and monitor patients at risk
of developing preeclampsia and is set to change the way expectant mothers are
cared for in prenatal clinics around the world.

The study, conducted by scientists at the highly-respected National
Institute of Child and Human Development of the National Institute of Health
(NICHD/NIH), set out to determine the diagnostic indices and predictive
values of biomarkers measured in maternal blood in the first and second
trimester of pregnancy. The goal of the study was to determine if the
biomarkers could predict the subsequent development of preeclampsia.

“This study represents a very important step forward; for the first time
ever, we are presented with the possibility, for clinical use, of a
combination of factors to predict early onset preeclampsia with a reasonable
degree of accuracy,” says Professor Marshall Lindheimer, Professor Emeritus
of Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the University of Chicago.

Preeclampsia is the leading cause of infant death and the second leading
cause of maternal death Around the world. Conservative estimates indicate
that preeclampsia is responsible for some 76,000 maternal deaths and more
than 500,000 infant deaths every year, according to the Preeclampsia
Foundation. Early onset preeclampsia is the most dangerous form of this

Known worldwide as ‘the silent killer’, preeclampsia is a disorder that
occurs during pregnancy and after delivery. It is characterized by high blood
pressure and the presence of protein in maternal urine. However, preeclampsia
can affect other organs such as the liver, the kidney, the brain. Sometimes
mothers develop seizures (eclampsia) and have intracranial haemorrhage which
is the main cause of death. In some instances, women develop blindness when
preeclampsia is severe. They may also suffer catastrophic complications such
as liver rupture.

The findings of this new study are published in the November issue of the
Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine.

“Left untreated, preeclampsia leads to serious – or fatal – complications
for both the mother and baby,” says Dr Kusanovic of the Perinatology Research
Branch of the NIH and Wayne State University/Hutzel Women’s Hospital in
Detroit, Michigan and lead author of the study.

“Our study found that maternal plasma concentrations (of angiogenic and
antiangiogenic factors) together with a combination of other demographic,
biochemical and biophysical factors are useful in assigning risk for the
subsequent development of early-onset preeclampsia,” explains Dr Roberto
, Chief of the Perinatology Research Branch of the NIH, who is one of
the world’s leading experts on this condition and in the study of
complications of pregnancy.

“The establishment of an accurate means to assess the risk for
preeclampsia will enable health care practitioners to identify women who
require more intensive monitoring to safeguard both mother and baby from this
devastating condition,” says Dr Romero.

Dr Mario Merialdi, Coordinator for Improving Maternal and Perinatal
Health at the World Health Organisation (WHO) said: “The results of the study
conducted by the international team led by Dr Romero have important
implications for clinical practice and public health policies. Hypertensive
disorders of pregnancy are one of the major causes of maternal and fetal
mortality worldwide.”

“Reliable screening tests that could identify women at risk for
developing preeclampsia are not yet available and the findings of Kusanovic
et al. provide the scientific basis for the development of such tests,”
explained Dr Merialdi.

“The World Health Organization, in collaboration with the Perinatal
Research Branch of the NICHD, is presently analyzing samples collected in
more than 10,000 pregnancies in eight countries around the world to further
validate the results obtained by Dr Romero’s scientific team.”

Informa – publishers of the Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine
- has made the full article available for open access on its website and
invites visitors to log onto:

SOURCE Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine

Source: newswire

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