Scientists can predict which women will have serious pregnancy complications

 Pregnancy scan  Credit: Fishman64 at

Women who will develop potentially life-threatening disorders during pregnancy can be identified early when hormone levels in the placenta are tested, a new study has shown.

Nearly all of the organ systems of the mother’s body need to alter their function during pregnancy so that the baby can grow. If the mother’s body cannot properly adapt to the growing baby this leads to major and common issues including fetal growth restriction, fetal over-growth, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia – a life-threatening high blood pressure in the mother.

Many of these complications lead to difficult labours for women with more medical intervention and lifelong issues for the baby including diabetes, heart issues and obesity.

Pregnancy disorders affect around one in ten pregnant women, but current methods to diagnose them are not sensitive or reliable enough to identify all at-risk pregnancies.

Now scientists have found a way to test hormone levels in the placenta to predict which women will have serious pregnancy complications. Their study is published in the journal Nature Communications Biology.

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Image: Pregnancy scan

Credit: Fishman64 at

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge



The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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