New blood test could predict premature birth risk

A team of researchers in the US has developed a blood test to predict which mothers may have their babies early, a discovery that could improve infant health.

Preterm births account for 75 percent of infant mortality and medical complications, so researchers hope this new tool can make a big impact in assessing the health of pregnant moms. The earlier physicians detect a mom's risks, the earlier they can intervene to help prolong the pregnancy.

Announced April 18, the simple blood test, developed by researchers from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah and reportedly the first of its kind, screens for three newly identified proteins and six previously discovered proteins.

Women at higher risk of premature birth have higher levels of these proteins in their blood than women who have healthy pregnancies, researchers stated. In a study, the team found more than 80 percent of preterm births could be spotted in advance using the blood test during the second trimester of a pregnancy.

"With preterm birth, if we could even prolong a pregnancy by one or two weeks, we could make a very big impact on the number of babies that survive and make sure that those that survive are healthy," said Dr. Sean Esplin of the research team in a statement. "With just one intervention, we could have a really huge impact."

More work needs to be done on the blood test before women can expect to see it in their physicians' offices, but researchers are "optimistic," they said. They hope the test will be available for trial at the end of this year and widely available by 2012.

Currently there are two other screening tests available to women who are considered at high risk for preterm delivery. One involves a practitioner measuring the length of a woman’s cervix with ultrasound to look for signs that it is changing. If the cervix starts to open or thin out early, preterm delivery is possible, states parenting and pregnancy website BabyCenter.com. Also a fetal firbonectin screening, reserved for women showing signs of preterm labor such as contractions, tests for fetal fibronectin proteins in a sample of a woman's cervical or vaginal secretions, which could indicate higher risk of preterm delivery.

The new blood test has been licensed to a company called Sera Prognostics, and the study was funded by the US-based National Institutes of Health. The research, printed online in advance, will be published in the May issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Learn more about preterm labor and birth: http://www.babycenter.com/0_preterm-labor-and-birth_1055.bc

Watch a video on the study: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esVYbxatSL8

To access the study's abstract: http://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378%2810%2901167-1/abstract

Sport
formula oneLive lap-by-lap coverage of championship decider
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

    Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

    £45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

    Day In a Page

    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
    Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

    Look what's mushrooming now!

    Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
    Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

    Oeuf quake

    Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
    Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

    Terry Venables column

    Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
    Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin