Every now and then, a really significant piece of research comes along that is certain to impact on women’s lives all over the world, and the following is one such study.
Scientists in Austria could potentially save thousands of lives with a new blood test capable of detecting pre-eclampsia in pregnant women even before symptoms begin to appear.
Pre-eclampsia stems from serious problems with the mother’s placenta, and can lead to high blood pressure and fluid retention. If left undiagnosed for too long, it can also result in death for the mother and the infant, and it currently stands as one of the biggest life threats to pregnant women and their babies.
This is why the PROGNOSIS (Prediction of Short-Term Outcome in Pregnant Women With Suspected Preeclampsia Study), which was published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, has been making headlines.
Explaining the motivation behind the major study, team member Dr Stefan Verlohren said: “The main problem with pre-eclampsia is that clinical presentation is variable and symptoms are often too non-specific to allow a clear diagnosis.'
“The new blood test can help us better predict the risk of disease onset or its progression,” he added.
As part of the study, the research team examined data belonging to 1,273 pregnant women with suspected pre-eclampsia. Each woman took a blood test in which their ratio of sFlt-1 to PlGF – two vital proteins produced by the placenta – were measured.
A ratio of 38 or lower was found to have a negative value for close to 100% of the women, and this test could then be used to rule out the presence or risk of pre-eclampsia within one week. A ratio of more than 38 was found to have a positive value, and that test could be used to predict the presence of pre-eclampsia within just four weeks.
We’re sure this new testing method will make a serious difference to the lives of women and children all over the world.