Monday, July 13, 1998 Published at 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Health: Latest News
Mums and babies at risk from missed tests
Women should have regular urine tests when pregnant, says charity
Pregnant women are being urged to get have regular urine tests in order to avoid a life-threatening disease which affects one in 10.
The charity Action on Pre-eclampsia (APEC) is launching a campaign to highlight the importance of regular urine and blood pressure tests for expectant mothers.
Ten per cent
Pre-eclampsia is a defect of the placenta and affects one in 10 expectant mothers. It can damage both mother and baby. Up to 10 women a year die from it in the UK, usually through kidney failure, stroke or fits.
Around 550 babies die from it each year, mostly from suffocation. Around 70,000 UK families are affected by it every year. It is mostly likely to hit first-time mothers in the last weeks of their pregnancy.
Once it has been diagnosed, the only cure is early delivery of the baby to prevent long-term damage.
APEC says the condition can be checked by regular urine and blood pressure tests. But it says many women don't get their urine tested regularly, often because they forget to bring samples along and are not urged to provide one by their doctor.
APEC's medical director, Professor Chris Redman, said: "Pre-eclampsia is a complex, treacherous and still baffling condition which affects as many as one pregnancy in every 10."
Life and death
Director Isabel Walker, who herself lost a baby to the condition, said women should ensure they are tested at every antenatal visit.
"It is a simple, cheap and very quick procedure," she said. "But in some cases it can make the difference between life and death."
APEC is distributing posters and leaflets around hospital maternity units and midwives as part of its Test the Water campaign.
The campaign is being launched by MP Barbara Follett at the House of Commons. Ms Follett suffered pre-eclampsia in all of her three pregnancies.