Doctors and researchers are constantly looking for better ways to predict pregnancy complications before they happen. One of the most difficult pregnancy complications to predict is pre-eclampsia. When symptoms occur for pre-eclampsia they often include increased blood pressure and protein in the urine. Fast weight gain can also be a sign of pre-eclampsia. By the time symptoms appear, doctors are forced to react to those symptoms and prepare for an early birth in many cases. Researchers from the University of Leicester decided to look into the protein content of urine taken at the 20th week of pregnancy to see if they could detect which women would suffer from pre-eclampsia and which would not. While pre-eclampsia only affects about 5% of pregnancies, the effects can be life threatening for both mother and baby.
The research group included 145 women who were at higher risk of having trouble with pre-eclampsia. Of the group of women, 11 were diagnosed with the condition. Researchers took urine samples from the women taken at 20 weeks and ran tests to find a connection between proteins and pre-eclampsia. Five proteins were found that correctly predicted pre-eclampsia in more than 90% of cases.
According to Dr. Matt Hall, lead author, “Our study suggests that changes in levels of certain proteins in the urine early in pregnancy can predict who will develop pre-eclampsia about 5 months before symptoms develop.”
Source: Mall Hall MD, Paul Bosio MD, Jonathan Barratt MD, PhD; Nigel Brunskill MD, PhD; Susan Carr MD, Karen Molyneux PhD. Leicester University. 25 November, 2010.