(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – About one in 20 women develop preeclampsia during pregnancy, which can be life-threatening to both moms and babies. However, it is difficult to diagnose because symptoms often mimic those of a normal pregnancy, such as swelling and headaches. Managing the condition early is critical to keeping mother and child safe, and now a new innovation may help start treatment sooner by quickly identifying preeclampsia with a simple urine test. In a new study, researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center tested a fast and easy test to accurately diagnose the condition in just three minutes.
“Giving birth is the only cure for preeclampsia, but it can develop as early as the second trimester,” said Dr. Kara Rood, lead author of the study and maternal-fetal medicine physician at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “The quicker we identify women with the condition, the better chance they have of carrying their babies to full term and having a healthy delivery.”
The test uses a special red dye that reacts to unique proteins in the urine of pregnant women with preeclampsia. It can be given easily during a prenatal visit, providing an immediate diagnosis. “Without the certainty of this test, providers tend to be overcautious because this is definitely a condition that we can’t allow to go untreated,” said Rood. “This test helps us to quickly provide care to women with preeclampsia, while avoiding unnecessary admissions or even early deliveries.”
Researchers expect the new rapid test to be FDA approved in the next few years so that OB/GYNs nationwide can use it to identify cases of preeclampsia. Dr. Rood hopes it will also be available for women to use at home to monitor complications during pregnancy.