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Mouse Study May Offer Better Diagnosis for Preeclampsia

Researchers find autoantibodies that block potentially fatal pregnancy complication

SUNDAY, July 27, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they have found a way to prevent preeclampsia in mice that might eventually help pregnant women with this potentially deadly disorder.

In a report published in the July 27 issue of Nature Medicine, the University of Texas-Houston Medical School researchers said they found an important pathway to the development of preeclampsia and managed to block it by injecting the mice with certain human autoantibodies that have been found in women with the condition.

Preeclampsia, which affects about 5 percent of pregnancies, has multiple features, such as dangerously high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and placental abnormalities. Its occurrence may require preterm delivery to prevent severe problems to mother and baby, as delivery is the only cure for the disorder.

Preterm birth is the leading cause of death in the first month of life. Those that survive have an increased chance of developing lifelong health problems including learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing loss and asthma.

More information

The Preeclampsia Foundation has more about preeclampsia.

SOURCE: March of Dimes Foundation, news release, July 27, 2008
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