A group of researchers has revealed metabolites that may predict risk of preeclampsia in women during a first pregnancy. The 14 metabolites are quite simple, but researchers could not detect them before now because medical technology was not available to allow such a find.

Doctors already knew preeclampsia was a condition that presented in the latter part of pregnancy, but originated far earlier. Without an effective test, obstetricians were left screening pregnant patients every visit to watch for common preeclampsia signs like fast weight gain, increased blood pressure and protein in urine.

Participants in the study were part of SCOPE or Screening for Pregnancy End Points. The international trial is composed of 7,000 women who are pregnant for the first time. The focus of the study is to find better ways to predict problems and health issues in pregnancy to better mold future pregnancy care with proper diagnostic, preventative and therapeutic care.

Out of every 100 women given the test, only 21% of positive results came back as false positives. Further fine tuning of the test to ensure finer accuracy will likely occur before the mainstream blood tests hits the market in the next five years or so. According to Louise Kenny lead researcher, ““Developing a predictive test for preeclampsia has been called the obstetrics’ Holy Grail.” It is estimated that 100,000 to 200,000 women die each year of problems surrounding preeclampsia.

< Preeclampsia

Source: Louise C. Kenny, David I. Broadhurst, Warwick Dunn, Marie Brown, Robyn A. North, Lesley McCowan, Claire Roberts, Garth J.S. Cooper, Douglas B. Kell, Philip N. Baker. Hypertension. September 2010.