Mums-to-be will get same-day test for fatal blood condition to spare thousands from hospital stay during pregnancy
- The NHS is currently rolling out the new test – the first of its kind in the world
- It will test for pre-eclampsia, a condition which can be fatal to the mother-to-be if left untreated and lead to stunted growth in babies or stillbirths
- The test will look for a protein called placental growth factor (PLGF)
- Low levels of PLGF can be an indicator of pre-eclampsia, requiring further tests
A same-day test for potentially fatal pre-eclampsia will spare 65,000 pregnant women a year lengthy hospital stays.
The NHS is rolling out the new test – the first kind in the world – to speed up diagnosis and reassure soon-to-be mothers.
The condition causes high blood pressure during pregnancy and if left untreated, the mother can suffer fits, organ failure and a stroke.
It can also stunt a baby’s growth or result in stillbirth.
Currently, thousands of women spend more than three days in hospital being monitored for pre-eclampsia. But the new test gives a result in as little as an hour.
During the test, women with symptoms – such as high blood pressure, headache and protein in the urine – will have a sample of blood taken so doctors can look for a protein called placental growth factor (PLGF).
A same-day test for potentially fatal pre-eclampsia will spare 65,000 pregnant women a year lengthy hospital stays
If the PLGF levels are high, it is highly likely they do not have the condition and can return home.
If their levels are low, it could be a sign of pre-eclampsia and further tests would be needed to confirm.
Three-quarters of maternity units in England are now using the test and the NHS said it will be available nationwide within two years.
Sun may cut premature birth risk
Sunshine in the first three months of pregnancy may reduce the risk of giving birth prematurely.
A study of almost 400,000 new mothers found those in parts of the country with the most hours of sunshine in their first trimester of pregnancy were 10 per cent less likely to have a premature baby.
That was compared to those mothers living in areas with the least sunshine.
Experts believe sun rays may reduce blood pressure and top up vitamin D, which are important in early pregnancy.
The risk of a premature birth was lower for women in sunny areas, even when age and financial situation were taken into account. The research tracked more than 393,000 mothers in Scotland between 2000 and 2010. Among more than 556,000 babies born, 6 per cent were premature – born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
The premature birth risk was 10 per cent lower in mothers exposed to the most sunshine, based on weather records from their postcodes in their first trimester.
This ranged from an hour-and-a-half a day in the winter to almost six-and-three-quarter hours in summer. The study, from the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, was published in journal Frontiers.
Rebecca Sanderson had the test in her third pregnancy after she was diagnosed with the condition in her first and was in and out of hospital for monitoring during her second.
The 32-year-old, from Doncaster, said: ‘The frequent monitoring and sometimes long stays in hospital waiting for results meant I had a lot of disruption to my home and work life.
‘This time I had a simple and quick blood test. The test showed that I didn’t need to be admitted to hospital and I was able to go home and be with my family with the peace of mind that I was okay.’
Jenny Myers, professor of obstetrics and maternal medicine at The University of Manchester, described the test as ‘transformative’.
She said: ‘I’m a real advocate for the test as it makes such a big difference to women.
‘In terms of ruling out pre-eclampsia, there will be lots of women that come to us with a high blood pressure reading at some point during their pregnancy and although this is a potential sign of pre-eclampsia, in many cases the woman isn’t developing pre-eclampsia.
‘If the PLGF-based test is normal, then we can be confident that pre-eclampsia is not developing over the next seven to 14 days and we can safely let that woman go back to her routine antenatal surveillance. Most importantly we can reassure her that everything is looking fine.’
Nadine Dorries, minister for maternity safety, added: ‘Pregnancy is both a uniquely wonderful and uniquely stressful time in a woman’s life and it is impossible to put a price on the peace of mind this kind of test will provide to future mothers.’
Pre-eclampsia occurs in about one in 12 pregnancies. The condition is thought to be due to a problem with the development of the placenta.
It is only cured once the baby has been delivered – although women may be given medication to lower their blood pressure and prevent convulsions.
Women with diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease before pregnancy are more likely to have the condition.
Source: Read Full Article