Simply determine the risk of fatal pregnancy complications

Simply determine the risk of fatal pregnancy complications

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Severe pregnancy complications predictable in the future?

Numerous complications can occur during pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia (pregnancy poisoning) is one of the most serious threats to mother and child. With a new test, the risk of pregnancy poisoning should now be relatively easy to predict, so that appropriate countermeasures can be taken at an early stage.

An Australian research team from Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Perth has developed a new test that can be used to predict the risk of preeclampsia easily and relatively accurately. “Worldwide, 76,000 mothers and around half a million unborn children die each year as a result of pregnancy poisoning,” the researchers report, and the new test can significantly reduce these numbers. Her study results were published in the specialist magazine “EPMA Journal”.

Determine the risk of pre-eclampsia by test

If pregnancy poisoning is recognized early, there are various treatment options. However, pre-eclampsia is still one of the most common causes of death for mothers and babies in developing countries. "In Ghana, it is responsible for 18 percent of maternal mortality," reports Enoch Anto, one of the study authors. The researchers therefore developed a simple test procedure that can be used to determine the risk of pregnancy poisoning quickly and inexpensively.

Questionnaire covered general health

Using 593 pregnant Ghanaian women, the researchers examined the accuracy of their test. The women initially filled out a questionnaire that Professor Wei Wang of the ECU developed a few years ago. In the questionnaire, factors such as fatigue, heart health, digestion, immune defense and mental health were taken into account and in the end a score is obtained that can be used to predict chronic diseases.

Combination with blood tests

"61 percent of the women who scored high on the questionnaire developed preeclampsia compared to only 17 percent of the women who scored low," reports the research team. When the results of the questionnaire were combined with blood tests that determined the calcium and magnesium levels in women, the researchers were able to correctly predict the development of preeclampsia in almost 80 percent of the cases.

Early warning could save many lives

"Both the magnesium and calcium blood tests and the questionnaire are inexpensive methods, making them ideal for use in developing countries where pre-eclampsia is the most common cause"; Anto emphasizes. An early warning could save thousands of lives, because drugs to lower blood pressure can counteract pregnancy poisoning. And if these do not help, an early delivery (possibly by caesarean section) is still the last option to save the life of mother and child. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters


  • Edith Cowan University (ECU): Simple test predicts dangerous pregnancy disorder (published 10/22/2019),
  • Enoch Odame Anto, Peter Roberts, David Coall, Cornelius Archer Turpin, Eric Adua, Youxin Wang, Wei Wang: Integration of suboptimal health status evaluation as a criterion for prediction of preeclampsia is strongly recommended for healthcare management in pregnancy: a prospective cohort study in a Ghanaian population; in EPMA Journal, Volume 10, Issue 3, pages 211-226, September 2019,

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