This Simple Test Could Diagnose Preeclampsia in Minutes

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Preeclampsia, a pregnancy condition that can be very dangerous — even deadly — for expectant mothers and their babies, can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms sometimes occur in pregnant women who don’t have preeclampsia. Now, in a study published in the Lancet’s E-Clinical Medicine, researchers at The Ohio State University say they’ve developed a simple urine test to quickly diagnose preeclampsia.

Called the Congo Red Dot (CRD), this paper-based urine test was evaluated in a study involving 346 pregnant women who were assessed for preeclampsia. The test provided results within three minutes, with an accuracy rate of 86 percent — better than other biochemical tests, according to the researchers.

Preeclampsia is the most common reason physicians decide to deliver babies prior to term. Symptoms include swelling, or edema, of the hands and feet, and the condition is also characterized by high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and increased risk for organ damage. It can lead to seizures and coma — also called eclampsia — a condition that causes 13 percent of maternal deaths worldwide.