A blood test that can determine which women are at risk of developing the deadly pregnancy complication preeclampsia has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The test, made by Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientific, may offer an early warning for a condition that has no cure and often has just vague symptoms.
It also may have taken the life of track star Tori Bowie, an Olympian who died earlier this year at age 32.
The blood test could help identify which pregnant women who have symptoms of preeclampsia will go on to develop it within two weeks- with a 96 percent success rate.
‘It’s groundbreaking. It’s revolutionary,’ Dr. Doug Woelkers, a professor of maternal fetal medicine at the University of California, San Diego, told The New York Times. ‘It’s the first step forward in preeclampsia diagnostics since 1900 when the condition was first defined.’
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a blood test that can detect preeclampsia in pregnant women with a 96 percent success rate
Track star Tori Bowie, seen here at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, died in May at age 32. An autopsy revealed that eclampsia, a more severe form of preeclampsia, contributed to her death
Two-thirds of the women who get a positive result, however, will go on to develop severe preeclampsia in those two weeks.
A study published last year in the journal NEJM Evidence evaluated the test in more than 1,000 pregnant women hospitalized with a hypertensive disorder.
The researchers found that two proteins were greatly imbalanced in the blood of those who went on to have severe preeclampsia. Those with the widest rations had a 65 percent chance of having severe preeclampsia and delivering their baby within two weeks.
Women who tested negative had to repeat the test every two weeks.
Preeclampsia typically develops about halfway through pregnancy. It’s characterized by high blood pressure and increased protein levels in urine that indicates kidney damage, known as proteinuria.
Many women may not have any noticeable symptoms, but other signs could include decreased platelets in the blood, severe headaches, vision changes, shortness of breath, pain below the ribs, and nausea or vomiting, according to the Mayo Clinic.
A study published last year found that two proteins were greatly imbalanced in the blood of those who went on to have severe preeclampsia. Those with the widest rations had a 65 percent chance of having severe preeclampsia and delivering their baby within two weeks
Warning signs of preeclampsia include high blood pressure, protein in urine, severe headaches, vision problems, pain below the ribs and vomiting
Though weight gain is common, sudden increase and swelling, particularly in the bands and face, could be signs of preeclampsia.
Risk factors include being pregnant with more than one baby, chronic high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, obesity, and being over 35 years old.
There is no cure for preeclampsia other than giving birth. This can result in the baby being delivered early.
‘We don’t have a therapy that reverses or cures pre-eclampsia other than delivery of the baby, which is more like a last resort,’ Dr Woelkers said.
Preeclampsia affects about one in 25 pregnancies, and more than 70,000 women worldwide die from it every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It’s also on the rise in the US, increasing 25 percent over the past two decades.
The condition also disproportionately affects black women, who are 60 percent more likely to have it than white women, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation.
Left untreated, it can progress to eclampsia, a more severe form of the condition that causes seizures, coma, and death.
An autopsy revealed that this could have led to Bowie’s death. She was at least seven or eight months pregnant at the time of death.