AHA Logo Preeclampsia a leading cause of maternal death threatens the life of both mother and child. This condition possibly begins in early pregnancy with defective development of the placenta, very often not revealing symptoms until the second half of pregnancy. An international team has apparently laid hands on a combination of sophisticated emerging technologies and data analysis that may identify 14 simple metabolites with high accuracy.

It is claimed that this combination can reveal in early pregnancy women who face chances of developing preeclampsia in later pregnancy. Since there is no such test available till date, experts affirm the finding to have greater significance. The international trial termed as SCOPE (Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints) was undertaken on around 7,000 women with first-time pregnancies. The study aimed to predict and restrict the occurrence of major diseases in late pregnancy.

The case control study was conducted in Auckland, New Zealand. During the analysis, authors found and assessed the detection rate of the test in women at 15 weeks’ gestation with low risk of preeclampsia. It was mentioned that 60 fit and healthy, first-time pregnant women with an average age of 30 years were later diagnosed with preeclampsia. Their outcomes were compared to a control group encompassing 60 women.

Louise C. Kenny, M.D., Ph.D., the study lead and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Anu Research Center, University College Cork, in Cork, Ireland, added, “Everything we know about this condition suggests women do not become sick and present with preeclampsia until late in pregnancy, but the condition originates in early pregnancy. To develop effective treatment and prevention strategies — our ultimate goal — we need to be able to start treatment in early pregnancy. We need to be able to tell who is at risk and who is not.”

In the second phase of the study which was undertaken in Adelaide, Australia, scientists validated the initial findings in a different group of women. This group comprised younger women with an average age of 22-23 years. These women were ethnically more diverse than the predominantly Caucasian group in New Zealand. Preeclampsia was supposedly developed by thirty-nine women after the early test. In comparison to them there were 40 matched controls.

Apparently the authors are attempting to make the technology easy by generating a single blood test which is cheap and readily accessible to hospitals worldwide. A simple blood test by expecting mothers may help detect risk of preeclampsia in early pregnancy.

The study is published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.