A new test that may be able to predict which pregnant women will suffer from the potentially fatal condition pre-eclampsia has been developed by scientists in UK.
Researchers at University of Leicester found that by analysing protein in the urine of pregnant women they could predict which would later develop pre-eclampsia which affects around five per cent of pregnancies, reports the Telegraph.
Currently the amount of protein in urine is measured at regular ante-natal check-ups and if levels rise it can indicate that the woman may be at risk.
There is no cure for pre-eclampsia other than to deliver the baby early but those at risk may be able to take preventive measures such as taking low-dose aspirin and calcium supplements.
The team led by Dr Matt Hall, of the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Leicester, found that the composition of the proteins at around 18 weeks gestation accurately predicted the risk of pre-eclampsia.
The researchers recruited 145 patients at risk of pre-eclampsia from Leicester Royal Infirmary early in pregnancy, 11 of whom subsequently developed pre-eclampsia.
An analysis of urine samples obtained prior to week 20 revealed a panel of five proteins that correctly predicted pre-eclampsia with 92 per cent accuracy.
"Our study suggests that changes in levels of certain proteins in the urine early in pregnancy can predict who will develop pre-eclampsia about five months before symptoms develop," Dr Hall said.
"Although these results do not give us a cure for pre-eclampsia, early identification of women at highest risk will allow focused monitoring and timely delivery of their babies, as well as reassurance for women found to be low risk," he said.