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Preeclampsia: early detection and immediate treatment

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A new Assay can predict the course of this hypertensive disorder

A blood test can help to assess whether a pregnant woman who suffers from pregnancy-induced hypertension, so-called preeclampsia, is at risk for an imminent delivery. This knowledge can be used to determine the due date as well as avoid complications for mother and child. This was now reported by a team of scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology*. The assay was put to the test in collaboration with Universitätsklinik Leipzig and five other European research centers.

Preeclampsia is the most common of the dangerous pregnancy complications. It is characterized by elevated blood pressure, protein in the urine and accumulation of excess fluid beneath the skin. If not treated in time, preeclampsia may progress to eclampsia, characterized by tonic-clonic seizures which can possibly result in maternal and infant death.

Dr. Stefan Verlohren from the Klinik für Geburtsmedizin and his team examined a total of 630 pregnant women. 388 of those were having a normal pregnancy whereas 164 suffered from preeclampsia. The scientists closely observed the remaining time of pregnancy in patients with preeclampsia. In cases where the concentration of two certain placenta-derived growth factors, so-called sFlt-1 and PlGF, exceeded a certain value the duration of pregnancy was significantly shorter. In patients with especially high test results delivery resulted within 48 hours.

“With this test we can assess the severity of preeclampsia and give a short-term prognosis of the disease course”, explains Dr. Verlohren. Further studies will have to evaluate the test´s validity in women who have an elevated risk of developing preeclampsia.

*Stefan Verlohren, Ignacio Herraiz, Olav Lapaire, Dietmar Schlembach, et al.: The sFlt-1/PlGF ratio in different types of hypertensive pregnancy disorders and its prognostic potential in preeclamptic patients. In: American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology - 01 August 2011. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2011.07.037


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Dr. Stefan Verlohren
Klinik für Geburtsmedizin
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 664 445

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