Why do we need this research?
Pre-eclampsia is a common and potentially serious complication of pregnancy, which in rare cases can cause the death of the mother or the stillbirth of her baby. However, most cases of pre-eclampsia are mild and have no effect on the pregnancy.
Women with pre-eclampsia may need to be admitted to hospital for treatment and monitoring. Some women become unwell very quickly and need to have their baby delivered straight away. Others will need long stays in hospital so that they can be observed.
In the PARROT study, researchers funded by Tommy’s showed that a simple blood test can help to identify which women with symptoms of pre-eclampsia are most at risk of developing severe complications. The test measured the amount of a substance called placental growth factor (PlGF) in the blood. Testing also helped to reduce the time it took to diagnose pre-eclampsia.
We now want to find out how often this test should be repeated during pregnancy.
What’s happening in this project?
Our researchers are carrying out a randomised controlled trial called PARROT-2, which will include over 1,200 women with symptoms of pre-eclampsia from several hospitals in the UK. The women will have blood tests throughout their pregnancies (from 22+0 to 35+6 weeks) to monitor their levels of PlGF. The researchers want to find out whether this repeated testing reduces the chances of a baby dying or having to be admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit, and whether it also prevents further health complications for the mother.
What difference will this project make?
The results from the PARROT study led to NHS England making the PlGF blood test more widely available. The PARROT-2 study will help to see if the blood test can be used even more effectively so that doctors can identify the women at the greatest risk of developing severe pre-eclampsia. We hope that this will ensure even more mothers get the care they need and help to improve the likelihood of them having a healthy baby.