Preeclampsia Prediction Test Is Important Step in Fighting Deadly Pregnancy Disease

blood pressure machineShort of developing a cure or vaccination to prevent it, a new urine test to predict if a woman will develop preeclampsia is one of the most encouraging developments the disease has seen in years. It's not on the market yet, but researchers have seemingly found a highly accurate and easy-to-administer test that could alert women and their health care providers that they're at risk of developing the deadly disease.

While just knowing it's coming doesn't necessarily mean it can be prevented, that knowledge would make a huge difference for women who are often hit by it without warning, women whose bodies turn on them with no advance clues, women like me.

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I was 26 weeks along in a seemingly healthy pregnancy, working long hours at a huge corporation in Washington. On my way home one evening, I wasn't feeling well, but stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few items anyway. I made my way back to the pharmacy's blood pressure machine and was shocked by my high numbers. I asked the pharmacist if the machine was broken, and he jokingly asked, "What, does it say you're going to die?" If only he knew how close he was to being right. I often wonder what would have happened if I hadn't stopped that night.

I was admitted to the hospital later that evening, and started gaining pounds of fluid rapidly. No medications, nor bed rest, nor intervention of any kind could stop my out-of-control body at that point. Finally after just six days in the hospital, my tiny little son was delivered via emergency c-section weighing 1 pound, 15 ounces.

If I had only known what was coming, things would have been so different. Perhaps not his outcome, but I like to think he would have gotten at least a few more weeks in utero if anyone had any idea what was to come. Maybe I would have worked less, rested more, gotten more vitamin D, I don't know, but I do know that being blindsided by it was the scariest part. Doctors had dismissed my swelling, told me I wasn't at risk for the disease so I had no idea what was happening and what was to come. Then I got pregnant with my daughter, and I was terrified I would develop the disease again. What a much more enjoyable pregnancy it would have been if I'd only known then that I wasn't at risk and that I would deliver her at full-term.

Hopefully this test will give other women what I and so many other women didn't have and help them better prepare for preeclampsia instead of it just stealthily attacking them and their babies. And hopefully a cure will come next.

Did you have preeclampsia? If so, did you have any warning that it was coming?


Image via meddygarnet/Flickr

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