Nice recommends two blood tests to rule out pre-eclampsia in pregnant women
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has backed two blood tests to help rule-out a complication in pregnant women.
The regulator has recommended a test by diagnostics company Alere (NYSE: ALR) and one by Roche Diagnostics a unit of cancer drugmaker Roche (SIX: ROG) for pre-eclampsia, a potentially life threatening complication affecting as many as one in 16 pregnant women.
The tests detect changes in the blood that can mean the placenta is not developing properly.
Professor Carole Longson, director of Centre for Health Technology at Nice, said: “Until now there have been no tests which doctors can use to confidently rule-out pre-eclampsia. This has meant women with suspected pre-eclampsia often need increased monitoring or have to stay in hospital. Apart from being inconvenient, this can increase anxiety at what might already be a stressful time.
“In recommending these tests the committee highlighted the importance of making sure laboratories explain to clinicians if a test result doesn’t rule-out pre-eclampsia they should not automatically diagnose women with pre-eclampsia.
Instead doctors should follow existing Nice guidelines to make such a diagnosis. This is so that babies aren’t delivered unnecessarily early as a result of these tests.”
It is estimated that pre-eclampsia, and associated eclampsia, are the second leading cause of direct maternal deaths in the UK. Pre-eclampsia is caused when the placenta doesn’t develop properly because of a reduced blood supply. Signs of pre-eclampsia include high blood pressure (hypertension) and the presence of protein in the urine (proteinuria).
If it’s not treated, there is a risk that the mother can develop potentially life-threatening eclampsia.
Pre-eclampsia can lead to liver, kidney and lung failure, problems with blood clotting and stroke later in life. It is also thought that women who develop pre-eclampsia during pregnancy may have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease later in life. Hypertension and pre-eclampsia can cause growth problems in the baby, premature birth, or stillbirth.
The only cure for pre-eclampsia is to deliver the baby.
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