Getting a Handle on Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia diagnostic test found effective in pilot study

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh

(RxWiki News) Of all pregnancy-related complications, preeclampsia is probably the most difficult to detect. But there's some hopeful news on that front.

Researchers from Ohio State University (OSU) and Nationwide Children's Hospital recently conducted a pilot test of a new diagnostic tool that correctly identified preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia — the number one reason doctors deliver babies early, according to this study — first shows up as high blood pressure and protein in a pregnant woman's urine. Finding it early is crucial, as early treatment can reduce the risks for both mother and child.

If the condition progresses, it can cause seizures and coma in the mother and even maternal death. On the other hand, delivering a baby early increases the risk of learning disabilities, cerebral palsy and blindness, among other conditions.

Lead study author Kara Rood, MD, said in a press release, "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. Our findings will have a huge impact on the health of women and children."

Dr. Rood is an expert in maternal-fetal medicine at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center.

Dr. Rood and team designed a test that uses a dye called Congo Red. Proteins in the urine quickly bind to this dye. When paper with a dot of Congo Red is dipped in a pregnant woman's urine, it can immediately detect the presence of protein. Called the Congo Red Dot test, or CRD test, this provides an immediate, non-invasive way to identify preeclampsia.

Dr. Rood and team enrolled 346 pregnant women in this study. All were in the labor and delivery unit for possible preeclampsia.

The nurses caring for these women performed the test, but were unaware of the results. Other diagnostic tests were then used to determine if the women had preeclampsia.

Researchers found that the CRD test was better at identifying preeclampsia than the other tests, with an accuracy rate of 86 percent.

This study was presented Feb. 4th at the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual pregnancy meeting in Atlanta, GA.

No funding sources or conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Review Date: 
February 2, 2016
Last Updated:
February 4, 2016