This is the first in a series of articles dealing with developments in the history of diagnostic pathology and laboratory medicine for the Journal of Clinical Pathology. The pregnancy test kits of today can give an accurate result within 2 min and are as easily available in the laboratory as they are for over-the-counter purchase. Such kits also find a use in the emergency room when dealing with the diagnosis of sudden abdominal pain in a woman of childbearing age. It is not immediately obvious that the simple urine dipstick tests of today reflect the cumulative knowledge of almost a century of reproductive biology, immunology and clinical chemistry.
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