A relatively easy and reliable test is on the cards for pregnant women that promises to iron out life threatening risks to expectant mothers and their babies.
Pre-eclampsia, an otherwise lethal pregnancy complication which could kill hundreds of fetuses a year can be averted with a simple saliva test. One in ten pregnancies is fraught with such risks and one in fifty, suffers a virulent repercussion of pre-eclampsia.
This test in its development phase in the United Kingdom, addresses the risks of pre-eclampsia in the initial stages itself so that repercussions on the health of both the mother and the baby can be averted. This test may not offer any cure for the condition apart from monitoring the health problems of expectant mothers and their unborn babies.
Pre-eclampsia is blamed for about 600 and 1,000 baby deaths annually in the United Kingdom. It is estimated that one woman succumbs every six minutes due to this condition.
Researchers at St Richards Hospital in Chichester are conducting a trial to gauge the efficacy and reliability of this new test, by seeking the participation of 1000 women in the trial.
This new test, a brain child of Dr Brian Owen-Smith, a retired hospital rheumatologist, examines and monitors elevated levels of urate in the body, a possible indication of pre-eclampsia. The saliva is thought to be an overflow system for urate and is therefore a more reliable way of testing the urate levels rather than a blood or urine test.
Dr Owen-Smith said: "A salivary urate test is simple, non- invasive, quick and cheap, and can be done any time. As a metabolic test independent of blood pressure, it may obviate the need for unnecessary hospital admission."
The conventional testing that employs using blood pressure and urine monitoring is not always reliable, as the indications could be attributed to factors other than pre-eclampsia.
Michael Rich, the chief executive of Action on Pre-eclampsia, said: "There's lots of space for user error if the midwife doesn't carry out the blood pressure test very well, while urate analysis can give false negatives and false positive results."
If the trials of this new test meet with success, it could lead to the development of simple home test kits to enable expectant mothers to monitor urate levels at home.