New test gives early warning for mums
A new blood test for pre-eclampsia, a severe pregnancy complication linked to high blood pressure, could save hundreds of babies' lives a year, say researchers.
The bedside test can give a result in 15 minutes and is able to identify 96pc of pregnant women at high risk of the condition.
It was developed by British scientists who studied a group of 625 pregnant women from across the UK, 61pc of whom were affected by pre-eclampsia.
The condition can damage the kidneys, liver and brain and lead to premature delivery, low birthweight babies, and stillbirths.
Dr Lucy Chappell, senior lecturer in obstetrics at King's College London, said: "The test is designed to differentiate women with pre-eclampsia from those with high blood pressure alone.
"Current tests for the condition only detect that it's happening, rather than predicting it, and by that time the disease has progressed and has likely already caused organ damage.
"The test identifies women at high risk for developing pre-eclampsia, so doctors can better monitor and treat the blood pressure.
"It also prevents unnecessary hospitalisations of those who are not likely to develop pre-eclampsia."
Pre-eclampsia affects one in 10 UK pregnancies, and between 1pc and 2pc of pregnant women suffer severe symptoms.
It usually strikes during the second half of pregnancy, or soon after a baby is born.