Fourteen simple metabolites that predict preeclampsia in early pregnancy with high accuracy have been detected by a team of international scientists.
Marked by high blood pressure and excess protein in a pregnant woman’s urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy, preeclampsia can lead to serious and even fatal complications for both the mother and the baby when left untreated. At the moment, there is no test that predicts preeclampsia and there is also no cure other than the baby’s delivery.
Reporting in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, the metabolic markers found can accurately predict in early pregnancy whether a woman will get the condition later in her pregnancy.
According to Louise C. Kenny, M.D., Ph.D., the study lead and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Anu Research Center, University College Cork (Cork, Ireland):
“Everything we know about this condition suggests women do not become sick and present with preeclampsia until late in pregnancy, but the condition originates in early pregnancy. 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.”
The research team’s ultimate goal is to simplify the technology to develop a single bedside blood test that will be cheap and readily accessible to hospitals around the world.