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Preeclampsia tests not accurate enough

New research published by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme has assessed methods for predicting and preventing preeclampsia, to help guide clinical practice and future research in this area.

Researchers led by Professor Khalid Khan, University of Birmingham, reviewed existing evidence on current methods for predicting and preventing preeclampsia to identify combinations of tests and treatments which could be clinically and cost-effective. The team examined evidence on the accuracy of tests to predict preeclampsia, the effectiveness of interventions, and conducted an economic analysis of the combined effect of tests and interventions.

The research team found that none of the current tests available to help predict preeclampsia are accurate enough to be recommended for use. They concluded that offering low-dose aspirin to women at risk of preeclampsia could be effective and calcium supplementation could be considered for those with low dietary calcium intake.

"Ideally the most clinically and cost-effective approach to reducing preeclampsia would be the provision of an effective, affordable and safe intervention that could be applied to all mothers without the need for testing," says Professor Khan.

"However more research needs to be conducted into both tests and treatment before a treat - all strategy could be suggested. Consideration should also be given as to whether we should continue using certain tests for identifying preeclampsia as these have not been found to be effective."

Preeclampsia is part of a group of conditions which cause high blood pressure in pregnancy. It accounts for complications in up to 8% of all pregnancies and may have serious effects on mother and child. The precise cause for preclampsia is unknown and therefore it is important that tests for predicting who will get it and interventions for its prevention are evaluated.

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