Blood test may help predict pregnancy due date, premature birth

Routine vaccinations are life-saving for many children. Just look at polio which once killed or disabled thousands and which has now been eradicated in the United States due to vaccination efforts. Before vaccines were developed for example rotavirus

Routine vaccinations are life-saving for many children. Just look at polio which once killed or disabled thousands and which has now been eradicated in the United States due to vaccination efforts. Before vaccines were developed for example rotavirus

To figure out how to predict preterm birth, the researchers used blood samples from 38 American women who were at risk for premature delivery because they had already had early contractions or had given birth to a preterm baby before. Recently released provisional data for 2017 from the National Center for Health Statistics show that the preterm birth rate in the US has reached 9.93 percent, up from 9.86 in 2016, the third consecutive annual increase after steady declines over the previous seven years.

Prof Basky Thilaganathan, a Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists spokesman, said: "Complications from premature birth are a leading cause of infant mortality and affect 7-8% of all births in the UK".

By searching for evidence of genetic activity in the mother's blood, it could be possible to not only pin down a delivery date, but determine whether the baby is at risk of being born before it's ready.

"More research is needed to confirm the findings before it can be considered in clinical settings".

Stephen Quake, a professor of bioengineering at Stanford, is a senior author on the paper, hopes that the blood test will give women "a safer and more comfortable pregnancy, both physically and psychologically".


Scientists are exploring the possibility of predicting the due dates and premature birth risks in pregnant women via blood test. "We had this idea that we could make a molecular clock to see how these things change over time and it should allow you to measure gestational age and see where things are in pregnancy".

Researchers have developed an cheap blood test they say can predict a pregnant women's due date and potentially identify women at risk for of preterm birth; Virginia's governor has expanded Medicaid in the state; and the American Medical Association is expected to take a stance on over-the-counter birth control this weekend. From seven cfRNA biomarkers, six out of eight preterm cases were correctly identified. "Our results are thus generally comparable to ultrasound measurements, can be performed throughout pregnancy, and do not require a priori physiological knowledge such as the woman's last menstrual period", the team states. In validation tests in an independent cohort, they found that "the test accurately classified four of five preterm samples (80%) and misclassified three of 18 full-term samples (17%)".

For the study, the team used blood samples collected during pregnancy to identify which genes gave reliable signals about gestational age and prematurity risk.

There is now no reliable way to predict when a pregnancy will result in premature birth, one of the world's primary causes of fetal sickness and death, Dr. Kecia Gaither, director of Perinatal Services at NYC Health+Hospitals in Bronx, New York, said in an email.

"These cfRNA PCR-based tests have two advantages over alternatives: broader applicability and lower cost", they conclude. These women each gave one blood sample during the second or third trimester of their pregnancies. "Conceivably, similar approaches will prove to be useful for identifying and monitoring fetuses with congenital defects that can be treated in utero-a rapidly growing area of fetal medicine".

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