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Simple test predicts dangerous pregnancy disorder

October 22, 2019

Australian researchers have developed a way to predict the onset of a deadly pregnancy condition that kills 76,000 women and half a million babies each year, mostly in developing countries.

Researchers from Edith Cowan University in Perth Western Australia have developed a simple, low-cost way to predict preeclampsia, one of the leading causes of maternal-foetal mortality worldwide.

Preeclampsia can cause devastating complications for women and babies, including brain and liver injury in mothers and premature birth.

Survey gives early warning

ECU researchers assessed the health status of 593 pregnant Ghanaian women using the Suboptimal Health Questionnaire.

The Suboptimal Health Questionnaire was developed in 2009 by Professor Wei Wang from ECU's School of Health and Medical Sciences. Combining scores for fatigue, heart health, digestion, immunity and mental health, the questionnaire provides an overall 'suboptimal health score' that can help predict chronic diseases.

Professor Wang's PhD candidate Enoch Anto found that 61 per cent of women who scored high on the questionnaire went on to develop preeclampsia, compared with just 17 per cent of women who scored low.

When these results were combined with blood tests that measured women's calcium and magnesium levels, the researchers were able to accurately predict the development of preeclampsia in almost 80 per cent of cases.

Mr Anto said preeclampsia was very treatable once identified, so providing an early warning could save thousands of lives.

"In developing nations, preeclampsia is a leading cause of death for both mothers and babies. In Ghana, it's responsible for 18 per cent of maternal deaths," Mr Anto said.

"But it can be treated using medication that lowers blood pressure once diagnosed.

"Both blood tests for magnesium and calcium and the Suboptimal Health Questionnaire are inexpensive, making this ideally suited to the developing world where preeclampsia causes the most suffering."
-end-
'Integration of suboptimal health status evaluation as a criterion for prediction of preeclampsia is strongly recommended for healthcare management in pregnancy: a prospective cohort study in a Ghanaian population' was recently published in the EPMA Journal.

Edith Cowan University

Related Preeclampsia Articles:

Women with preeclampsia may be at greater risk for cardiac conditions later in life
Women who have gestational hypertension or preeclampsia in at least one pregnancy will have higher cardiovascular risk than women without such a history, and that this elevated risk persists at least into their 60s.
Medication use during pregnancy is common in women with preeclampsia
Use of medications during pregnancy is more common in women with preeclampsia than in those without, according to a British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology analysis of women who gave birth at a hospital in Finland in 2002-2016.
Best strategy for managing hypertension and preeclampsia at end of pregnancy
In 2009, the Hypertension and Preeclampsia Intervention Trial At near Term-I (HYPITAT- I) trial showed that inducing labor in women with gestational hypertension or preeclampsia at the end of pregnancy reduces the number of high risk situations for the mother, without compromising the health of newborns.
Narrowing risk of preeclampsia to a specific phenotype
In a recent paper in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, MUSC researchers look at preeclampsia when it coincides with type 1 diabetes.
Preeclampsia risk may be reduced by a healthy high-fibre diet
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Clinical trials beginning for possible preeclampsia treatment
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A new proof of concept study shows that functionalized magnetic beads reduced blood levels of a harmful molecule by 40%, which doubled the effect of a different molecule that aids blood vessel function, opening new perspectives for the treatment of preeclampsia.
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An estimated six to 15 million people in the US are children born of a pregnancy complicated by preeclampsia.
Research finds simple urine test allows for rapid diagnosis of preeclampsia
About one in 20 women develop preeclampsia during pregnancy, which can be life-threatening to both moms and babies.
Better regulation of the immune system may minimize preeclampsia symptoms
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