Researchers at Yale School of Medicine in the US have developed a simple urine test to predict and diagnose preeclampsia, a common hypertensive complication of pregnancy.
The Congo Red Dot test helps fulfil a critical need in the developing world for low-cost diagnostics for preeclampsia, researchers said.
It helps identify high-risk patients, who can then be transported from remote settings to facilities where there is access to specialised care for preeclampsia, such as magnesium sulfate therapy.
A study was conducted on 347 pregnant women and accurately predicted preeclampsia, allowing healthcare providers to offer better preventive care to pregnant women.
Yale School of Medicine associate professor Irina Buhimschi, who led the study, said despite its effectiveness in preventing eclamptic seizures, magnesium sulfate is underutilised in developing countries.
She said the test could also identify women who needed to deliver their babies immediately, in turn reducing the incidence of unnecessary early birth, because delivery is the only effective treatment for preeclampsia.
The Congo Red Dot test, based on a common red dye originally used to stain textiles, could be used as a marker for assessing misfolded proteins, researchers said.
The research was presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) in Chicago and was funded by a McKern Award for Perinatal Research.
The World Health Organisation estimates that about 63,000 pregnant women die each year because of severe preeclampsia, as well as a related condition called eclampsia, which can cause sudden, convulsive seizures.