University of Iowa researchers have discovered a biomarker that could give expecting mothers and their doctors the first simple blood test to reliably predict that a pregnant woman may develop preeclampsia, at least as early as six weeks into the pregnancy.
Preeclampsia is a cardiovascular disorder generally occurring late in pregnancy and often resulting in an early delivery, creating immediate and potentially lifelong risks to both mother and baby. It causes high blood pressure and protein in the urine, and is typically diagnosed in the late second or third trimester of pregnancy. Between 5 and 7 percent of all pregnancies in the United States are affected with preeclampsia, equating to roughly 4,000 pregnancies in Iowa or around 500,000 in the United States per year. More than 100,000 women worldwide die from the disease each year.
In their paper, “Vasopressin in Preeclampsia: A Novel Very-Early Human Pregnancy Biomarker and Clinically-Relevant Mouse Model”, study authors demonstrate that elevated secretion of arginine vasopressin (AVP) can be a very early biomarker of a preeclamptic pregnancy.
The paper was published online in the American Heart Association’s journal, Hypertension. It will be published in print in October. A summary of the research findings can be found on the University of Iowa website.