A NEW test pioneered in Oxford is sparing women an unnecessary hospital stay while pregnant.

It predicts with almost 100 per cent accuracy that a pregnant woman will not develop pre-eclampsia within the following seven days.

Currently, women are often admitted to hospital, sometimes for several days in order to make the diagnosis.

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This is done by excluding all the other possible causes of high blood pressure and protein in the urine through a series of tests.

Before the introduction of the test at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), almost 70 per cent of patients admitted did not actually have the condition.

Pre-eclampsia, which occurs in around four per cent of all pregnancies, causes high blood pressure and can result in liver failure, kidney failure and seizures in the mother.

The blood test was successfully trialled by researchers and clinicians at the John Radcliffe Hospital’s Women’s Centre.

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Without the test, there is no accurate method to determine who will not get the disease. The additional cost to the NHS for treating pre-eclampsia is estimated at £9,000 per pregnancy.

After the trial, the test was accepted as routine clinical practice at OUH last year.

A paper on the study, which proved the effectiveness of the test, was published last week but the initiative is already being rolled out to NHS trusts across the country.

Dr Sofia Cerdeira, from the research team, said: “This test has improved our ability to make the right decision on admission.

"Using the test, no one with pre-eclampsia within one week has been missed, so understandably, it has been welcomed enthusiastically by midwives and clinicians working here at the John Radcliffe Hospital’s Women’s Centre.

"We’re delighted that it is being made available for women elsewhere in the country.”