Monday, 07 May, 2007 Health & Fitness

New Saliva Test to Save 1,000 Unborn Babies Each Year


Scientists from UK are currently working on a simple saliva test that could easily and more effectively spot a deadly pregnancy complication, that kills hundreds of unborn babies each year. The complication is called pre-eclampsia and the new test will be able to detect it as early as possible. Thus scientists might reduce the risks to both mothers and their babies.

It is worth mentioning that there is no cure for the condition but giving birth to the baby. However, early detection of the problem could serve well for monitoring pregnant women for further complications.

Researchers, working at St. Richards Hospital in Chichester, make their study on 1,000 women, that take part in the saliva test. Scientists hope that the new test will be more effective and precise than the tests of urine and blood pressure that are currently used.

A defect in placenta is the problem that causes pre-eclampsia. The placenta supplies the baby with both nutrients and oxygen coming from mother's blood. About one in ten pregnancies have pre-eclampsia, and its severe form takes place once in 50 pregnancies.

Pre-eclampsia is a dangerous condition that leads to the deaths of 600 to 1,000 babies each year in the United Kingdom. The deadly complication each year kills up to five mothers. Every six minutes on the planet a woman dies of pre-eclampsia.

The only way to cure this condition is to deliver the baby. This, however, puts some infants at risk of death, due to the fat that they are being born prematurely. Most women that are at risk include: first-time mothers, women who are over their 40s, women that suffer from obesity and those that have a family history of pre-eclampsia.

The pre-eclampsia was, for the first time, identified 150 years ago. Till nowadays,however, doctors were not able to find what causes the condition.

Dr. Brian Owen-Smith, a retired hospital rheumatologist, was the one to develop the new saliva test. The test monitors increased levels of urate, which is a salt of uric acid. This acid is a waste product that the human body produces. Thus raised levels of urate can serve as an indicator of pre-eclampsia.

Researchers think that the saliva test might be more reliable. This is because saliva is seen by the scientists as the "overflow" system for urate. It is not excreted through the kidneys but in the gut. Thus the true raise in urate levels can be identified more precisely.

In case the trials of the test prove to be successful, researches hope the test could be performed at home using a simple kit.

The professor of obstetrics at the baby charity Tommy's, Andrew Shennan, outlined that any progress in the identification of women that are at risk is crucial.

Powered by

Add your comment:

antispam code