September 14, 2010

Predicting Dangerous Pregnancy Condition

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- New research may tell a woman whether she is at risk for a life-threatening condition early in her pregnancy.

Preeclampsia is a leading cause of maternal death and is characterized by high blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine. It is thought to begin in early pregnancy, but symptoms typically do not surface until the second half of pregnancy.

"Everything we know about this condition suggests women do not become sick and present with preeclampsia until late in the pregnancy, but the condition originates in early pregnancy," Louise C. Kenny, M.D., Ph.D., study lead author, from the University College Cork in Ireland, was quoted as saying. "To develop effective treatment and prevention strategies -- our ultimate goal -- we need to be able to start treatment in early pregnancy. We need to be able to tell who is at risk and who is not."

An international team of scientists used sophisticated technology and data analysis to detect 14 simple metabolites to predict women who are at risk for preeclampsia in early pregnancy. They are now trying to simplify the technology to develop a single blood test that will be inexpensive and easily accessible to hospitals everywhere.

Preeclampsia affects about 5 percent of pregnant women in the United States. According to the World Health Organization, up to 200,000 women die each year as a direct cause of preeclampsia.

SOURCE: Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, September 2010