Kenneth Gibson MSP has received a response from the SNP Government to his question of what steps it will take, to ensure that midwives all over Scotland will be able to use four lifesaving tests to positively diagnose pre-eclampsia in pregnant women who may be at risk.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition that causes high blood pressure during pregnancy and after labour. It can be serious and, in some cases, fatal to baby or mother if not properly diagnosed and treated. It affects 6% of pregnancies.
In March, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Diagnostic Advisory Committee recommended four simple tests that can be used between 20 to 36 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy to help make decisions about caring for women presenting with suspected preterm pre-eclampsia.
The four tests measure levels of placental growth factor (PLGF) in the blood. PLGF is a protein that helps the development of new blood vessels in the placenta. In pre-eclampsia levels of PLGF can be abnormally low and could be an indicator that the placenta is not developing properly.
In response to Kenneth’s correspondence, Women’s Health Minister Maree Todd MSP replied that the SNP Government is working with the Scottish Perinatal Network (SPN) to examine the adoption of PLGF testing for pre-eclampsia in Scotland.
Data are currently being gathered to understand any challenges associated with roll-out of PLGF testing across Scotland. Earlier scoping work, based on the original two PLGF tests recommended by NICE, indicated some potential challenges to effective implementation, particularly around differences in the structure of laboratory services and facilities between Scotland and England, and SPN is currently seeking to establish whether there are practical benefits to either or both of the additional two tests as a starting point.
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“Any woman who has been affected by pre-eclampsia will be keen that it happens to no one else. Now that we have legitimate data that these tests – with a same day result – are recommended, I believe we must do everything to accommodate that.
“The heartbreak my wife Patricia and I experienced from losing our healthy baby son at full term because of an inability to diagnose pre-eclampsia, and then eclampsia, will always stay with us.
“Such tragedies can now be prevented by using simple and reliable tests – and they are in use in other countries, from England to Sierra Leone.
“To me it is a no-brainer that women in Scotland should be tested by our NHS and I trust that any issues with lab structure or capacity will be swiftly resolved.”
Kenneth will continue to raise awareness and press for these tests to become available on the NHS in Scotland.
For more information and support on pre-eclampsia, visit the Tommy’s baby loss charity website.