One of the scariest things about being pregnant is the potential of developing preeclampsia.
This condition is sometimes called toxemia and it strikes about 200,000 pregnant women a year, usually suddenly and without warning. It can be life-threatening to the mother and force an early delivery, which is dangerous to the baby.
So, here's what's new...researchers have discovered that a toxic protein released by the placenta is the major cause. The study out today in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that a simple urine test can predict which women will get the condition.
"Once you identify who is going to get preeclampsia then you could specifically follow those patients closer and avoid major complications," says Dr. Ananth Karumanchi, with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
"If we can come up with a test it's gonna both save lives and ease the minds of a lot of women like myself who developed it in earlier pregnancies. It's fantastic news," says Rebecca Johnson, who lost a baby from preeclampsia.
Researchers are hopeful that a test could be available within a year and that experimental treatments based on this discovery could actually cure the condition within a few years.
Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure and excessive amounts of protein in the urine that can damage the kidney, liver, brain and can lead to seizures or stroke that can be life threatening to the woman. At this time, researchers say the only way to stop preeclampsia is to deliver the baby and remove placenta since the source of disease is thought to come from placenta.