Preeclampsia is usually found during regular prenatal checkups.
Routine prenatal tests
Certain tests are given at each prenatal visit to check for preeclampsia. These include a:
- Blood pressure reading. Blood pressure is always monitored closely during pregnancy.
- Urine testUrine test to check for too much protein in the urine. This is a sign of kidney damage caused by preeclampsia.
- Weight measurement. Rapid weight gain can be a sign of preeclampsia.
Tests for women considered high-risk for preeclampsia
Other tests may also be used to check for signs of preeclampsia, including:
- Blood testsBlood tests to check for problems such as HELLP syndrome and kidney damage. (Too much uric acid in the blood is often the earliest sign of preeclampsia.)
- Creatinine clearance testCreatinine clearance test to check kidney function. This requires both a blood sample and a 24-hour urine collection.
- 24-hour urine collection test to check protein in the urine.
Tests for women who have preeclampsia
If results from one or more of the above tests suggest that you have preeclampsia, you and your baby will be closely monitored for the rest of your pregnancy.
Testing is more frequent and extensive when preeclampsia is severe and the pregnancy is far from full-term (less than 36 weeks).
You may have a physical exam to check for signs that preeclampsia is getting worse.
You may also have:
- Blood tests to check for blood abnormalities and kidney damage.
- A creatinine clearance test.
Tests for women who have eclampsia
- A CT scan or MRI to check organs and internal body structures.
- An electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure the brain's electrical activity.
Tests for the baby
If you get preeclampsia, the baby's health also will be closely watched. The more severe your condition, the more often you'll need testing, ranging from once a week to daily.
Tests commonly used include:
- Electronic fetal heart monitoring. It records the baby's heart rate.
- Fetal ultrasound to check the baby, the placenta, and the amount of amniotic fluid.
- Doppler ultrasound. This test checks how well the placenta is working.