A new blood test might help doctors identify pregnant women who are unlikely to develop a dangerous complication called pre-eclampsia, despite having suspicious signs or symptoms.
That’s the finding of a study in the Jan. 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Experts said that if the results are confirmed by further research, the test could go a long way in ruling out pre-eclampsia in women with suspected cases.
That’s important because right now, women with possible pre-eclampsia are usually hospitalized for close monitoring, said Dr. Ellen Seely, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
A reliable test that could spare women that hospital stay would have a “substantial impact,” said Seely, who wrote an editorial published with the study.
Anywhere from 2 percent to 8 percent of pregnant women develop pre-eclampsia, according to the March of Dimes.
The condition, which occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy, is marked by high blood pressure and other signs that a woman’s organs — such as the kidneys and liver — aren’t functioning properly. Symptoms can include protein in the urine, as well as severe headaches and vision problems.