The presence of protein in the urine, known scientifically as proteinuria, is a common and normal change in pregnancy, which is usually related to increased kidney work to filter excess fluid from this new phase of a woman’s life.
However, when the amount of protein in the urine is very high, usually above 300 mg per day, it can mean some health problems, such as a small infection or even pre-eclampsia.
Therefore, all blood and urine tests performed by the pregnant woman should always be evaluated by the obstetrician to determine if further tests are necessary to diagnose possible health problems and to initiate early treatment.
Main causes of protein in urine
Some of the most common causes of excess protein in urine are:
1. Excessive stress
Gestation is a period of many changes and adaptations in the life of the pregnant woman and therefore the level of stress can be very high. Generally, increased stress causes an increase in the functioning of the body, which also translates into increased filtration in the kidneys.
Thus, the emergence of protein in the urine is common, however, this change is temporary and disappears in a few days, without affecting the health of the pregnant or the baby.
2. Urinary tract infection
The existence of a urinary tract infection is a major cause of proteinuria, occurring due to the presence of bacteria. In these cases, it is possible to have other signs like increased frequency to urinate, sensation of weight in the bladder or discomfort when urinating, for example.
Although the urinary tract infection does not directly affect the baby, it needs to be treated quickly to avoid other complications such as childbirth or weight loss at birth.
Pre-eclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy that should be detected as soon as possible to avoid health problems in the pregnant woman. In these cases, excess protein appears after the second trimester of pregnancy and is associated with other changes such as increased blood pressure, headache or bloating in the body.
When pre-eclampsia is suspected, it is important to repeat the urine test and consult the obstetrician to assess blood pressure.
Can protein in urine indicate pregnancy?
Although gestation causes an increase in the amount of protein in the urine, this change is not always a sign of pregnancy. This is because several health problems can cause the same change:
Problems in the functioning of the kidneys;
Thus, when the urine test indicates the presence of protein, it is important to consult the general practitioner to evaluate the need for further tests to help determine if there are any health problems that need to be treated.