The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK is set to roll out a novel same-day blood test, called placental growth factor (PLGF) testing, to detect pre-eclampsia in pregnant women.
Pre-eclampsia is a fatal condition in pregnant women and can impact their babies, leading to long stays in hospital.
The PLGF test is the first-of-its-kind in the world to check for pre-eclampsia, the NHS noted.
The test aids in ruling out the condition on the same day, and in turn, reduces stress and anxiety. It also permits the initiation of treatment quickly when necessary.
NHS maternity and women’s health clinical director Matthew Jolly said: “Pre-eclampsia is a life-threatening condition for both mum and baby if left untreated and this is why the NHS takes every precaution possible when soon-to-be mums have some of the early signs like high blood pressure.
“This new way of testing means we can rule out the condition in a much quicker and easier way – it removes the stress that comes with the uncertainty around not having a diagnosis and will reassure thousands of pregnant women every year.”
According to the NHS, 65,000 pregnant women are currently hospitalised for up to three days each year to be observed for pre-eclampsia.
Women with symptoms including high blood pressure and headaches, which commonly happen in the second half of pregnancy, are advised by their general practitioners (GPs) or midwife to join the hospital for the blood test as part of the complete clinical analysis.
Treatments for the condition can involve medicines for high blood pressure or, in severe cases, anticonvulsants to prevent fits if the delivery is due.
The new test offers a rapid diagnosis and reduces the number of hospital trips required, thereby freeing up clinics and reducing the workload for staff.
It will be rolled out as part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s goals to invest in additional effective therapies and innovative technologies.
The NHS intends to make the test available throughout the country within the next two years.
Last month, the NHS announced an investment of £20m to expedite the rollout of ‘skin snaps’ and rapid tests for same-day cancer diagnoses.