Better diagnostic tools can significantly improve pregnancy outcomes.
One of the most dangerous complications that can occur during pregnancy is preeclampsia, a type of high blood pressure (hypertension) disorder.
When preeclampsia is not properly managed, it can lead to lifelong health problems for the mother and significantly increase the risk of life-altering birth injuries for the baby. And before preeclampsia can be treated, it must be diagnosed.
Fortunately, a newly FDA-approved diagnostic test may make it easier for doctors to identify patients who are at risk of severe preeclampsia, and to make those predictions earlier in pregnancy.
What the newly approved test does
Preeclampsia's primary symptom is high blood pressure, but there are other warning signs of the disease as well. Among those symptoms are elevated levels of certain proteins in the blood during pregnancy.
The newly approved prognostic test works by detecting sFlt1 and PIGF, two proteins in the blood that predict poor outcomes from preeclampsia. This test can be used between weeks 23 and 35 of pregnancy to predict whether the patient will be at risk of severe preeclampsia if they have already been diagnosed or are later diagnosed with hypertension.
"Doctors can use this in conjunction with other clinically available tests to stratify their patients to determine whether they're at high risk for severe preeclampsia and complications, or at low risk, to be managed appropriately," said Sarosh Rana, MD, MPH, the chief of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology.
Earlier detection of severe preeclampsia risk can help medical professionals better direct resources toward the highest-risk pregnancies. It may also help to reduce the risk of premature birth in cases involving severe preeclampsia, with all the attendant risks to the premature baby.
Doctors need to use the tools at their disposal to prevent birth injuries.
While new tests and therapies are important tools to help doctors protect mothers and babies, those tools only work if they are used appropriately. Properly diagnosing and managing preeclampsia is critical.
When preeclampsia is not effectively treated, there is an elevated risk of preterm birth, placental abruption, birth asphyxia, and other dangerous complications. Improperly managed preeclampsia can increase the risk of serious birth injuries, including:
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)
- Cerebral palsy
- Developmental disabilities
- Breathing difficulties
- Hearing and vision loss
The only cure for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby and the placenta, but the condition can be managed until birth with medication and careful monitoring. With proper diagnosis and care, the risk of harm to both the mother and the baby can be minimized.
We stand up for families affected by preeclampsia
The consequences of failure to diagnose and treat preeclampsia can be life-altering. Babies with birth injuries caused by preeclampsia can have lifelong disabilities and need extensive medical care and support. Families in this situation have legal rights, but doctors and hospitals fight hard to minimize their liability. An experienced birth injury attorney can level the playing field.
If your child sustained a birth injury due to misdiagnosed or mismanaged preeclampsia, we would be honored to listen to your story and explain your legal rights and options. Give us a call or contact us online for a free consultation with The Lancione Law Firm.