London: Now, a simple urine test during pregnancy can predict whether a mom-to-be can develop pre-eclampsia, a potentially fatal condition, say scientists.
The scientists say the new test detects specific kidney cells in patients` urine to determine whether a woman can have pre-eclampsia which appears in late stages of pregnancy and is characterised by hypertension and excess protein in the urine.
In its research involving 300 women, a team at Mayo Clinic found that out of 15 women who developed pre-eclampsia, all tested positive for the cells.
Dr Vesna Garovic, who led the team, assessed a test which detects the shedding of kidney cells called podocytes in the urine. The team had previously found podocytes present in patients with pre-eclampsia when they gave birth.
In this study, all the women who went on to develop pre- eclampsia had podocytes in their urine, while none of the 15 who went on to develop high blood pressure or the 44 healthy pregnant women did, the `BBC` reported.
Although carried out on small numbers of women, the researchers say the test is highly accurate for predicting pre-eclampsia and could alert doctors early to the problem.
Andrew Shennan, Professor of obstetrics at St Thomas Hospital in London, said: "Being able to use a simple accurate test in pregnancy, such as from a urine sample, would be valuable in identifying those women to watch closely.
"Current tests are not reliable enough, and further work is needed to confirm these promising findings in larger groups."