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Blood test for pregnant women

A new blood test to check for the potentially life-threatening condition pre-eclampsia will be available to women in England.

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NHS England is making placental growth factor (PLGF) testing more widely available to pregnant women, as evidence suggests it speeds up diagnosis.

Those who develop pre-eclampsia have dangerously high blood pressure, which can damage vital organs, but the condition can be managed if spotted early enough.

The PLGF test tells doctors if a woman is at high, medium or low risk, with those at higher risk closely monitored. Trials of the new test, which costs about £70 per person, show it speeds up diagnosis, meaning life-threatening complications to mother and baby can be avoided.

More than 1,000 women at 11 UK maternity units took part in the trials during their second and third trimesters.

Using PLGF alongside regular blood pressure and urine checks cut the average time to diagnosis from four days to around two. Earlier diagnosis was linked with a lower chance of serious complications – 5.3% versus 3.8% .

The NHS in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland could choose to offer the test too.
 

Image credit | iStock

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