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Fourteen Fatty Acids Found Can Predict Pre-eclampsia

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Fourteen Fatty Acids Found Can Predict Pre-eclampsia

Data collected from New Zealand women identify 14 new fatty acids that can predict a first-time pregnant woman's risk of developing pre-eclampsia.

After analysing samples from 7,000 first-time mothers worldwide, most of them New Zealanders, an international team of scientists and physicians were able to identify 14 simple metabolites or fatty acids that accurately predicted which women could developing pre-eclampsia.

The mothers-to-be provided blood samples at 20 weeks' gestation and the outcome of their pregnancy was also followed.

The findings, recently published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, came from the Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints study, which was initiated at Auckland University.

The university's obstetrics and gynaecology head and co-author of the article, Professor Lesley McCowan, said the findings could be hugely important for identifying women at risk of pre-eclampsia.

"If we can easily identify at-risk women, we can prescribe preventative therapies and more intensive monitoring," she said.

Currently, there is no predictive test for the life-threatening condition that affects eight million women worldwide, 1650 in New Zealand, and kills about 200,000 each year.

Pre-eclampsia is characterised by severe high blood pressure and elevated protein in the urine. The mother can develop kidney or liver problems, stroke and seizures.

The condition is thought to begin in early pregnancy with defective development of the placenta, and can also be life-threatening for the child.

Researchers last year also discovered a set of 33 proteins, which predicted the development of pre-eclampsia. It pointed to a link between that condition and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease -- a future test may combine proteins and fatty acids.

"What we want is to be able to offer a simple, blood test which is cheap and readily accessible. This discovery puts us closer to that goal," Prof McCowan said.


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