Study Identifies Potential Indicator for Preeclampsia
An Australian study published recently in the Journal of Reproductive Immunology has identified a potential indicator for the early detection of preeclampsia, a common – and severe – pregnancy complication.
Expectant mothers typically develop preeclampsia in the last three months of pregnancy. It develops seemingly without warning and can cause high blood pressure, kidney and liver damage, and serious blood problems. The only way to stop preeclampsia is to deliver the baby. If left unchecked, the condition can severely injure both the mother and her child.
Researchers at the University of Sydney examined fetal thymus glands to help determine whether a woman was at-risk for suffering preeclampsia. The thymus is a specialized organ, located just behind the breast bone, that plays an important role in the development of T cells, which are critical components of the immune system.
Surprisingly, researchers discovered that the thymuses of fetuses whose mothers suffer preeclampsia are significantly smaller than the those in babies of healthy pregnant women. In addition, these changes can be observed mid-pregnancy, which provides doctors an opportunity to treat the condition before it injures mother and child.
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