Preeclampsia, a syndrome that affects some pregnant women, has been called mysterious in both popular and scientific literature. It is characterized by high blood pressure and, often, protein in the urine. Symptoms vary, ranging from headaches to seizures and life-threatening complications. What causes preeclampsia, which occurs in an estimated five to eight percent of all pregnancies, is not well understood, so there isn’t a way to determine who will develop it. The only established treatment is delivery, which sometimes leads to premature birth.
“Currently there’s no clinically useful way to predict which women will develop preeclampsia,” says Temple University College of Public Health epidemiologist Dr. Brandie DePaoli Taylor.
Hoping to discover new connections that could shine some light on preeclampsia’s origins and inform future research or treatment, Dr. Taylor is leading a new five-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study will include hundreds of women with and without preeclampsia and will analyze blood samples taken early in pregnancy. The researchers will look for biological markers in the blood that might correlate with cases of preeclampsia as well as severe symptoms.
“There’s still a lot we don’t understand about the syndrome,” Taylor says. “There’s no blood test that tells physicians which women have the highest chance of developing preeclampsia, and of those women which will require early intervention to avoid progression to the most severe preeclampsia-related outcomes.”
The study will work with pregnancy data and biological samples taken as part of a multi-year national study called Screening for Obstetric and Pregnancy Endpoints, or SCOPE.
Read more about the study.Tags: Friday Letter Submission, Publish on September 13