DUDLEY'S hospital trust is thought to be the first in the area to offer a blood test to identify mums-to-be who may be at risk of developing a potentially serious pregnancy complication.

The test measures proteins in the blood to determine who may be at risk of developing pre-eclampsia which can cause headaches, swelling, visual disturbances and high blood pressure as a result of the placenta not working properly.

Pre-eclampsia affects around one in 20 women during pregnancy and many mums-to-be may only have mild symptoms or be unaware they have it but it can be harmful for mother and baby if not monitored and treated so it is important that it is detected early.

The test aims to identify women at risk of developing the condition, so their pregnancy can be managed accordingly.

Rashda Imran, obstetrics and gynaecology consultant at the trust, said: “This test will help us managing the women at risk of developing, pre-eclampsia.

“The test measures two proteins in the blood, and if the results indicate an increased risk then we will use this, along with other factors such as blood pressure and protein in urine, to manage the condition in the safest way for both mum and baby."

Mrs Imran added: "This could mean more regular visits to the community midwife or possibly admission to hospital for observation.”

Pre-eclampsia can happen as early as 20 weeks into pregnancy but it is more common after 34 weeks and may occur soon after the baby is delivered.

Mums-to-be who present with symptoms such as raised blood pressure will be offered the blood test between 20 and 35 weeks.