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Blood test can gauge pre-eclampsia risk

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New research has found that a simple blood test measuring placental growth factor (PLGF) can help gauge the risk in women where pre-eclampsia is first suspected.

Previous findings showed that the level of PLGF in the blood of pregnant women is recognised as an important marker for the wellbeing of the placenta and foetus, as well as the placenta’s ability to sustain the pregnancy.

But a new investigation, known as PELICAN, used the Alere Triage PLGF test to measure PLGF levels in 625 women who were suspected of having pre-eclampsia after their first visit to the clinic and found contrasting results.

A high PLGF level found in women presenting 35 weeks before gestation was linked to a low risk of delivering the baby early, with the study finding that 96% were correctly diagnosed as not at risk.

However, a low level of PLGF that was correctly identified in women at high risk of preterm delivery showed that 94% of women required early delivery.

Professor Christopher Redman, of Oxford University and PELICAN, said: “Pre-eclampsia is notoriously unpredictable. Reliable tests that can be used in the clinical setting, when pre-eclampsia is first suspected, would be a notable breakthrough in the management of this life-threatening condition.

“The PELICAN data have demonstrated that PlGF testing before 35 weeks enables physicians to categorise women into low and high risk for disease progression and to adjust clinical management appropriately.”

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