COLUMBUS, Ohio – Researchers with The Ohio State University College of Medicine, OSU Wexner Medical Center and Nationwide Children’s Hospital found a simple urine test can rapidly detect one of the world’s deadliest pregnancy-related conditions at the point of care.

In an effort to reduce illness and deaths among expecting mothers and their unborn children, maternal-fetal medicine and perinatal physician-researchers designed a rapid tool to identify preeclampsia using an affordable and non-invasive clinical “red dye-on paper” test. It was piloted in a clinical study at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. The results are published in Lancet’s E-Clinical Medicine.

Currently, preeclampsia is identified by high blood pressure and elevated proteins in the urine. The disorder is the number one reason physicians decide to deliver children prematurely and is responsible for approximately 18 percent of maternal deaths in the U.S.

It affects up to eight percent of pregnancies and some women may have the disease for weeks without having symptoms.  Others can progress to a dangerous level within days.

Researchers enrolled 346 pregnant women who were being evaluated for high blood pressure and possible preeclampsia. They used the CRD urine test which provides results at the bedside within three minutes.

Trained clinical research nurses analyzed results before the patient’s doctor made a final diagnosis. Results of the CRD test were not shared with the patient’s care team.

Eighty-nine of the pregnant women had a clinical diagnosis of preeclampsia. Of those, 79 percent were induced due to preeclampsia, with an average age of delivery at 33 weeks gestation.

The team found the CRD test was superior to the other biochemical tests, with an accuracy rate of 86 percent.

If undetected, preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, one of the top five causes of maternal and infant illness – including seizures and coma – and the cause of 13 percent of maternal deaths globally.

Pregnant women may be induced, and unborn children delivered early, even if there’s just suspicion of preeclampsia. Premature birth is also a concern because it increases the risk of learning disabilities, cerebral palsy and blindness in newborns.

The Congo Red Dot test was developed by Drs. Irina and Catalin Buhimschi while at Yale University and has been licensed to a commercial company.