Now There's a Simple Test to Diagnose Preeclampsia

There may be a way to easily diagnose one of the world's deadliest pregnancy complications. Could it up high-risk women's odds of carrying safely?

Now There's a Simple Test to Diagnose Preeclampsia science photo/Shutterstock

Preeclampsia, one of the deadliest pregnancy complications, is shockingly common—it affects 5 to 8 percent of pregnant women. It's characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. It's also the number one reason doctors decide to deliver babies prematurely and is responsible for 18 percent of all maternal deaths. And yes, it's the complication that famously affected Kim Kardashian West.

There's no doubt about it: Preeclampsia is a major problem pregnant women face—and it's earned a reputation as a "mysterious" one thanks to the difficulty surrounding its diagnosis.

A game-changing solution

But if recent research is any indication, that won't be the case any longer. A team of maternal-fetal medicine and perinatal physician-researchers in Columbus, Ohio have developed a tool that can identify preeclampsia quickly and simply by way of a urine test.

Researchers studied urine samples from 346 women and trained clinical nurses made diagnosis based on the urine alone. The test had an impressive 86 percent accuracy rate and researchers believe it could help all pregnant women going forward.

"This is the first clinical study using the point-of-care, paper-based Congo Red Dot (CRD) diagnostic test, and the mechanism proved superior in establishing or ruling out a diagnosis of preeclampsia. Our findings will have a huge impact on the health of women and children," Kara Rood, M.D., an author of the project said.

How it works

Dr. Rood told Fit Pregnancy a bit more about how the test works. "In patients with preeclampsia their urine has misfolded proteins and when we add the dye to the urine, the dye and misfolded proteins move together towards the periphery, resulting in a big red dot," she said. "In contrast, when the dye is added to normal healthy pregnant women, the dye binds to the papers in absence of the misfolded proteins and the urine disperses towards the periphery leaving a small red dot. If a women was to take the test, she would see large red spot if she had preeclampsia and a small red dot if she didn't have preeclampsia."

This development could dramatically reduce the dangers associated with preeclampsia, especially since the complication is at its most destructive when left undetected.

According to a release for the study, the diagnosis tool was confirmed to be an accurate and rapid way of identifying preeclampsia with a "sample in/answer out" method. The test is currently pending FDA approval and researchers hope it will be available at your doctor's office as soon as that clears.