Scientists say a test taken while pregnant could predict which women will develop pre-eclampsia. The researchers say they tested 300 women and 15 tested positive for specific kidney cells in their urine. Those 15 all developed pre-eclampsia.
Thousands of women and babies die or get very sick each year from pre-eclampsia. It’s a life-threatening disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Pre-eclampsia is most often characterized by a rapid rise in blood pressure that can lead to seizure, stroke, multiple organ failure and death of the mother and/or baby.
As the BBC reports, the kidney cells in pregnant women researchers have identified that are indicative of pre-eclampsia are called podocytes. The scientists had previously found podocytes in patients with pre-eclampsia when they gave birth. The test appears to be right on the money for predicting pre-eclampsia and could help doctors identify which women to watch closely.
Ann Marie Barnard, chief executive of Action on Pre-Eclampsia, sys the test would help a lot of women. “A large number of the 1,500 women who call our helpline each year are terrified of becoming pregnant again because they have suffered pre-eclampsia, often with tragic results. Many do decide to go ahead with a new pregnancy anyway. Any test which can predict whether they are going to get it again has to be welcomed – while it cannot stop the disease occurring, it would enable services to be more closely focused on them and more alert to signs of the disease developing.”
Andrew Shennan, professor of obstetrics at St Thomas Hospital in London, said: “Being able to use a simple accurate test in pregnancy, such as from a urine sample, would be valuable in identifying those women to watch closely. Current tests are not reliable enough, and further work is needed to confirm these promising findings in larger groups.”