Test could predict pre-eclampsia

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Test could predict pre-eclampsia
28/10/2008

Researchers have identified a protein that could be used in a simple test that could identify pregnant women at risk of developing pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy). Such a test would enable earlier monitoring for problems and might save the lives of up to 1,000 babies a year.

Pre-eclampsia is a form of high blood pressure in pregnancy that also causes fluid retention and protein in the urine. It is caused by a problem with the placenta. If pre-eclampsia is not detected, the results can be dangerous for both mother and baby.

The only way to stop pre-eclampsia is for the baby to be delivered, which can sometimes mean a premature birth. Although there is no cure for pre-eclampsia, close monitoring of pregnant women at risk of developing will them and their doctors to make beneficial changes.

The researchers studied a protein, called VEGF165b, that they believed played a vital role in controlling the development of a pregnancy. They discovered that low levels of VEGF165b at 12 weeks (end of the first trimester) was linked to developing pre-eclampsia.

Women whose VEGF-165 levels had risen 10 times by the 12th week went on to have normal pregnancies. In contrast, women who went on to develop pre-eclampsia had almost no rise in VEGF-165 levels at this point.

While more research is needed, the finding holds out the hope that a simple test could be used to detect pre-eclampsia risk in the future.


Topics: Research, High blood pressure


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