This Simple Test Can Diagnose Preeclampsia in Three Minutes

The innovative test is fast, easy and affordable.
ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
Mar 2019
pregnant woman sits on the couch and looks at phone
Photo: Nazar Abbas

Researchers have developed a fast and easy way to diagnose preeclampsia early in pregnancy. The simple urine test has been proven to work in just three minutes, according to researchers from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Preeclampsia is largely out of any women’s control, but it can be pretty serious. The condition is identified by high blood pressure and certain proteins in the urine, and affects 2 to 8 percent of all pregnancies. Preeclampsia is the most common reason a doctor decides to deliver a baby prematurely, and accounts for about 14 percent of global maternal deaths annually. What’s tricky about preeclampsia is some women will have the disease for weeks before showing symptoms, while others can progress to dangerous levels in a matter of days. Which is why early diagnosis is key. Up until now, it wasn’t that simple.

“This is the first clinical study using the point-of-care, paper-based Congo Red Dot (CRD) diagnostic test, and the mechanism proved superior in establishing or ruling out a diagnosis of preeclampsia,” says lead author Kara Rood.

For the study, researchers enrolled about 340 pregnant women who were being evaluated for high blood pressure and possible preeclampsia. They used the CRD urine test, which provides results within three minutes. Nurses then analyzed results before the patient’s doctor made a final diagnosis. Eighty-nine of the pregnant women had a clinical diagnosis of preeclampsia, and of those women, 79 percent were induced due to preeclampsia. The CRD test was superior to the other biochemical tests, with an accuracy rate of 86 percent.

“Preeclampsia is often described as ‘mysterious’ because it’s difficult to diagnose,” says Craig Kent, MD, dean of the College of Medicine. “I’m proud of our dedicated researchers for finding an easy, non-invasive test that will help diagnose this condition and maintain the health of pregnant women and their babies.”

The sooner doctors detect preeclampsia the better. This new study is the latest advancement being made for better preeclampsia practices. Recently, another non-invasive and early detection test was also shown to be effective.

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