Despite its prevalence, preeclampsia often goes undetected initially because the symptoms, such as headaches and swelling, mimic those of a regular pregnancy.
Preeclampsia also evolves differently for different women, further complicating the diagnosis process.
“Some women can have the disease for weeks before having symptoms, whereas other women can progress to a dangerous level within days,” explained Rood.
Early detection is the best way to mitigate the high risks involved.
“By providing a timely and accurate diagnosis, it allows a patient’s doctor to provide closer observations to pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia,” Rood said.
There are other benefits of the urine test as well.
“Ultimately, this could decrease unnecessary hospital admissions, interventions, and help with certainty of preeclampsia in cases where it is challenging for providers to diagnose,” said Rood.
Rood explained that with the urine test “accurate results can be delivered in three minutes.”
The presence of preeclampsia is detected by a red dye in the paper that reacts to the characteristically unique proteins, erasing doubt for diagnosing doctors.
The test would be administered by doctors in prenatal appointments. Eventually, the study authors hope, it will be available for at-home use as well.
“An at-home test can empower women to be an active participant in their prenatal care,” Rood said.
“It could even eventually lead to more home-based monitoring which could prove particularly useful in rural settings,” added Tsigas.
While we are still a ways out from seeing this new test on local pharmacy shelves, it won’t be too long before it’s available in clinics.
Without any foreseen barriers preventing approval, the study authors suspect the FDA will sign off on the test fairly quickly.
“In fact, a multi-center trial is currently under way and should be completed within two years,” Rood confirmed. “This test, once approved, will be available to doctors around the world who can use it to identify cases of preeclampsia.”
Researchers at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center are working on a new urine test that can detect preeclampsia earlier than current tests.
The timely diagnosis would allow doctors to start treatments for this potentially deadly condition.
Preeclampsia now affects 1 in 20 women during their pregnancies.
The researchers say the simple and affordable test could be available in clinics within two years.