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New test checks for risk of preeclampsia in first trimester of pregnancy

Preeclampsia happens in about 1 in 25 U.S. pregnancies, according to the CDC.
Doctor measuring blood pressure on pregnant patient
Posted at 3:41 PM, May 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-15 16:41:11-04

A test launched Wednesday can identify risk of preeclampsia in the first trimester of pregnancy.

The blood test, announced by LabCorp, is the first of its kind in the U.S., and can be used between 11 and 14 weeks of gestation.

“Basically, we’re talking about hypertension and pregnancy, usually the second half of pregnancy,” said Oluyemi Aderibigbe, MD, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic.

“Patients can also have some headaches, visual disturbances, pain on the right side of the stomach. Those are the typical complaints with preeclampsia. You can also be asymptomatic, meaning just the blood pressure is high,” he said.

Dr. Aderibigbe said there are many theories about preeclampsia, but doctors think it happens because the placenta hasn’t implanted well. Preeclampsia can lead to serious and even fatal complications for both the mother and baby, including seizures and preterm birth. The condition usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Preeclampsia happens in about 1 in 25 U.S. pregnancies, according to the CDC.

“About 16% of maternal deaths are attributed to hypertensive disorders in pregnancy,” said Marie Hanna-Wagner, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Esprit OB/GYN Center in Colorado.

Some factors that can create an increased risk for preeclampsia include being 35 or older, pre-existing high blood pressure, and having a twin or triplet pregnancy or IVF pregnancy.

“The way that we kind of detect preeclampsia at this point in time is a combination of maternal signs and symptoms in addition to abnormalities in their kidney function and their liver enzymes, also in their blood counts. This test may kind of add to our ability to detect preeclampsia early on,” Dr. Hanna-Wagner said.

The test works by measuring biomarkers associated with preeclampsia risk.

“We all want to be able to predict and know who has preeclampsia, so it’s a great idea to be able to predict it. The question still remains, even if we do that, we still don’t have any treatment for preeclampsia. The treatment for preeclampsia is actually delivery,” Aderibigbe said.

“This test may be really helpful for us and really might change our morbidity and mortality rates of preeclampsia,” Hanna-Wagner said.

@scrippsnews Preeclampsia affects about 1 in 25 pregnancies in the U.S., according to the CDC. But now, a new test—the first-of-its-kind in the U.S.—can identify risk for #preeclampsia in the first trimester of #pregnancy. #news #pregnancytiktok ♬ original sound - Scripps News