Wanda Steele, RNC
At every prenatal visit, you're probably asked to leave a urine sample. One of the things they test for is protein in the urine. But if they find protein, what does it mean? Obstetrical Nurse Wanda F Steele tells you.Your question
I am currently at 26 weeks, and my last urine test showed a slightly elevated protein level. Should I be concerned, and is my baby okay? All other tests have been very good. - Lorie, Calgary
The expert answers
Protein and sugar are the two things that are checked in your urine every time you go to the obstetrician's office. In the absence of other symptoms and based on a one-time finding of protein in your urine, I would not be overly concerned.
If your symptoms also included elevated blood pressure, chest pain, headache, swelling, rapid weight gain, brisk reflexes and/or visual disturbances, then, we are talking about a problem called pre-eclampsia. Once protein is found in your urine, these other symptoms are evaluated in depth. This is not a good situation for the mother or the baby and that is why your urine is checked every time you go to the office. This problem can decrease the blood flow to the placenta and can result in a smaller, less healthy baby. Ultrasounds to assess fetal growth may be ordered.
Early pre-eclampsia can sometimes be conquered by strict bedrest. If not, then it requires hospitalization and medications used to prevent it from becoming eclampsia, which is the same disease with the addition of seizures. This can result in a baby having to be delivered prematurely and that has risks also. The only cure for this disease is to deliver the baby and treat the mother until she is better which is usually pretty quickly.
So you see, this is not a good situation for either the mother or the baby. I am sure that your caregivers are checking you out thoroughly and would let you know if they felt there was a problem.