Test approved to detect preeclampsia
Posted on the 31st July 2023
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a test to detect preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening form of high blood pressure that can develop during pregnancy or after childbirth, is a leading cause of mortality in pregnant women globally, and occurs in 1 in 25 pregnancies in the United States.
Developed by Thermo Fisher Scientific, the blood test helps predict if a patient will develop severe preeclampsia in the next two weeks. Doctors usually gauge a patient’s risk level by monitoring blood pressure and checking the proteins in urine, but the new test promises improved accuracy.
There is no cure or treatment for preeclampsia and the only way to help is by delivering the baby, which brings on the added risk of premature delivery.
Time is critical for preeclampsia care, so patients who present warning signs of the disease are often hospitalized and closely monitored.
It is hoped the new test will reduce the need for “lengthy hospitalizations” by allowing doctors to discharge low-risk patients, according to a study submitted to the FDA by Thermo Fisher.
The new preeclampsia test has been widely celebrated as a small victory in the fight to make childbirth safer in the US. However, some doctors have warned that the new test is unlikely to protect the lives of women most vulnerable to preeclampsia.
According to the March of Dimes, an organization that advocates for maternal and infant health, over one-third of counties in the US do not have obstetric resources or birth centers.
Meanwhile, in the UK, nearly 3,500 first-time mothers will be taking part in a study to understand conditions affecting pregnant women.
Led by Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, it aims to explain why some women develop preeclampsia and other placental complications.
The large-scale study is also examining how these complications can impact women's long-term health.