Researchers have developed a simple, low cost method to predict the onset of a pregnancy condition called preeclampsia—a disorder that causes premature birth, and brain and liver injury in mothers, killing nearly half a million babies each year, globally.
The study, published in the EPMA Journal, noted that in developing nations, preeclampsia is a leading cause of death for both mothers and babies.
The researchers, including those from the Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia, assessed the health status of 593 pregnant Ghanaian women using the Suboptimal Health Questionnaire developed in 2009.
The questionnaire, the researchers said, combines participants’ scores for fatigue, heart health, digestion, immunity and mental health, to generate an overall ‘suboptimal health score’ to predict chronic diseases.
They found that 61 per cent of women who scored high on the questionnaire went on to develop preeclampsia as compared to just 17 per cent of women who scored low.
When the researchers combined the questionnaire scores with blood tests that measured women’s calcium and magnesium levels, they could accurately predict the development of preeclampsia in almost 80 per cent of the cases.
The researchers said that preeclampsia was easily treatable once identified, and added that providing an early warning could save thousands of lives.
“In developing nations, preeclampsia is a leading cause of death for both mothers and babies. In Ghana, it’s responsible for 18 per cent of maternal deaths,” said co-author of the study Enoch Anto of ECU.
Anto added that both blood tests for magnesium and calcium, and the Suboptimal Health Questionnaire were inexpensive, making the new method ideally suited for developing countries where preeclampsia caused high maternal mortality rates. — PTI
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