FDA approves new blood test to detect preeclampsia

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Food and Drug Administration just approved a new blood test to predict preeclampsia in its early stages.

KOB 4 spoke with a local doctor on how this advancement could help moms in New Mexico.

“It affects almost 3 to 7% of all pregnancies,” said Dr. Madhurima Keerthy, a UNM Maternal-Fetal Medicine senior fellow.

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy condition that can start with minor symptoms, but leave women and their babies with deadly consequences.

Now, there is hope on the horizon after the FDA recently approved a new blood test to screen for the disease.

“This disease usually is really hard to predict or to diagnose, because in a lot of patients, it doesn’t have any symptoms,” said Keerthy. “I think any way they can predict or diagnosis early would really contribute significantly to taking care of our patients, and reducing the bad outcomes.”

Preeclampsia causes women to see a spike in high blood pressure, protein in their urine, and other issues.

“Some of the risks include seizures, stroke, excessive bleeding for the mother. And some of the risks for the baby include stillbirth,” Keerthy said. 

Preeclampsia can happen to any woman no matter what their pre-existing conditions are. The indicators of this disease can feel like pregnancy symptoms too.

“Some patients may also feel abdominal pain, contractions, vaginal bleeding, blurry vision,” said Keerthy. 

When Olympic sprinter, Tori Bowie, was found dead in her home back in May, autopsy reports said she died from complications while giving birth, which may have included eclampsia — a more severe condition that develops from preeclampsia.

Keerthy and many medical studies say women of color are more prone to this disease.

“This disease does seem to be more prevalent in patients with, you know, patients of color, patients of lower socioeconomic status,” said Keerthy. 

The doctor is very passionate about this topic from her own experiences.

“I personally had preeclampsia with my pregnancies,” said Keerthy. 

She says this new FDA approved blood test could really benefit New Mexicans too as our preeclampsia numbers here are higher than most.

“In population studies, you see it anywhere between 3 to 5%. But we seem to see it somewhere around 9%,” said Keerthy.