Simple blood test can predict deadly pregnancy condition – with up to 96% accuracy
A blood test that can determine which women are at risk of developing the deadly pregnancy complication preeclampsia has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The test, created by Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientific, could provide early warning of a condition that has no cure and often has only vague symptoms.
It may also have cost the life of track star Tori Bowie, an Olympian who died earlier this year at age 32.
The blood test can help determine which pregnant women with symptoms of preeclampsia will develop them within two weeks — with a 96 percent success rate.
“It’s groundbreaking. It’s revolutionary,” said Dr. Doug Woelkers, a professor of maternal fetal medicine at the University of California, San Diego. The New York Times. “It’s the first step forward in the diagnosis of preeclampsia since 1900, when the condition was first defined.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a blood test that can detect preeclampsia in pregnant women with a 96 percent success rate
Track star Tori Bowie, seen here at the Rio 2016 Olympics, died in May at the age of 32. An autopsy revealed that eclampsia, a more severe form of preeclampsia, contributed to her death
However, two-thirds of women who get a positive result develop severe preeclampsia in those two weeks.
A study published last year in the journal NEJM proof evaluated the test in more than 1,000 pregnant women hospitalized with a hypertensive disorder.
The researchers found that two proteins were highly unbalanced in the blood of those who developed severe preeclampsia. Those with the largest rations had a 65 percent chance of severe preeclampsia and delivery within two weeks.
Women who tested negative had to repeat the test every two weeks.
Preeclampsia usually develops about midway through pregnancy. It is characterized by high blood pressure and elevated protein levels in the urine indicating kidney damage, known as proteinuria.
Many women may not have noticeable symptoms, but other signs may include decreased platelets, severe headache, vision changes, shortness of breath, pain under the ribs, and nausea or vomiting, according to the Mayo clinic.
A study published last year found that two proteins were highly imbalanced in the blood of those who developed severe preeclampsia. Those with the largest rations had a 65 percent chance of severe preeclampsia and giving birth within two weeks
Warning signs of preeclampsia are high blood pressure, protein in the urine, severe headache, vision problems, pain under the ribs and vomiting
While weight gain is common, sudden gain and swelling, especially in the ligaments and face, can be signs of preeclampsia.
Risk factors include being pregnant with more than one baby, chronic high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, obesity, and being older than 35 years.
There is no cure for preeclampsia other than giving birth. This can lead to the baby being delivered prematurely.
“We don’t have any other therapy that reverses or cures preeclampsia, other than delivery of the baby, which is more of a last resort,” Dr Woelkers said.
Preeclampsia occurs in about one in 25 pregnancies and kills more than 70,000 women worldwide each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is also on the rise in the US, with a 25 percent increase over the past two decades.
The condition also disproportionately affects black women, who are 60 percent more likely to have it than white women, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation.
If left untreated, it can progress to eclampsia, a more serious form of the condition that causes seizures, coma, and death.
An autopsy revealed that this could have led to Bowie’s death. She was at least seven or eight months pregnant at the time of death.