Blood test for pre-eclampsia risk on horizon

A simple blood test could identify pregnant women at risk of pre-eclampsia after scientists identified predictive markers for the condition.

A team led by Professor Louise Kenny from University College Cork discovered 14 new metabolites that can accurately predict the risk of pre-eclampsia in first-time pregnant women.

The potentially fatal condition is characterised by high BP and elevated protein in the urine.

In the discovery phase of the study, researchers assessed 60 healthy, first-time pregnant women who went on to develop pre-eclampsia. These were matched to a control group of 60 women.

Researchers assessed data from blood samples taken at 15 weeks and tested for metabolites.

Potential markers were compared between the two groups to detect those occurring at higher levels in women who later developed pre-eclampsia.

Researchers then validated the predictive power of the 14 markers in a second phase by comparing metabolite levels in a test group of 39 women against a control group of 40 women.

The team said they will now attempt to develop a single blood test to predict risk of developing the condition.

Researcher Dr Phil Baker at the University of Alberta said: ‘In the next five years our aim is to develop a simple blood test that will be available to all pregnant women that will detect the risk of pre-eclampsia in early pregnancy.’

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