Health professionals and Australian mums have welcomed the introduction of a new test which can help predict and prevent the development of the pregnancy condition pre-eclampsia.
Melbourne Royal Women’s Hospital has developed a world first blood test to help predict the potentially fatal pregnancy condition.
Nearly two per cent of cases are severe enough to threaten the lives of both mother and unborn baby.
The test can predict the likelihood of pregnant women developing the condition.
Pre-eclampsia affects around five to 10 per cent of all pregnancies, which leads to dangerously high blood pressure, protein in the urine, severe fluid retention and can involve kidneys, liver, brain and other organ systems.
The hospital’s director of pregnancy research Professor Shaun Brennecke says pre-eclampsia requires immediate attention.
“Currently, the only way to cure pre-eclampsia is to end the pregnancy by delivering the baby, even if the pregnancy is still many weeks from full term, in which case such prematurity can have significant implications for the long-term health of the baby.”
The test will give doctors the ability to understand the severity of the pre-eclampsia and the best time to deliver the baby.
“This new test is a long-awaited and very important step forward,” he says.
Perth mother Ashley Wibberley has welcomed the test.
She was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia with all three of her pregnancies, with baby number three spending three weeks in neo-natal intensive care with temperature control issues, feeding and breathing difficulties.
“With my third baby I was diagnosed at 36-weeks, however [the baby] was the size of a 33-week-old when born.
“They believe this was caused due to the high blood pressure not allowing the blood flow through the cord properly.”
Ms Wibberley believes the test is long overdue and is invaluable to mothers and their future children.
“Each pregnancy has been pretty taxing on my health, I’ve had extend hospital stays away from my family and watched my babies health gambled with due to the condition. We would love to try for another baby, however we just can’t justify the risk of another pre-eclampsia pregnancy to take us by surprise.”
Caitlin Dirou developed pre-eclampsia at 37-weeks of her pregnancy with baby Hudson, although she suspects she may have developed it earlier despite her obstetrician disagreeing with her concerns.
“I had to be induced at 37.4 as the placenta wasn’t providing enough nutrients to Hudson.
“He was very small when born at only six pounds. He had jaundice and was very tired so breastfeeding was huge struggle.”
Before being diagnosed, she knew next-to-nothing about the condition.
“I had only known and been aware about pre-eclampsia because of Kim Kardashian but if I hadn’t seen her story, I probably wouldn’t have known anything about it and would have been unaware.”
For more information on pre-eclampsia, visit Royal Women’s Hospital website.