New Blood Test Could Predict Pregnancy Due Date And Premature Births

09 June, 2018, 22:09 | Author: Sherman Richardson
  • Pregnant Woman receives an ultra Sound in this undated stock

Specifically, the team targeted the RNA in the mother's blood.

"By measuring cell-free RNA in the circulation of the mother, we can observe changing patterns of gene activity that happen normally during pregnancy, and identify disruptions in the patterns that may signal to doctors that unhealthy circumstances like preterm labor and birth are likely to occur", Stevenson said.

There have been several studies on preterm births in the past, and the reasons for it. Previously, the best available tests for predicting premature birth worked only in high-risk women, such as those who had already given birth prematurely, and were correct only about 20 percent of the time. It was as accurate as the current method of ultrasound and more accurate than guesses based on woman's last menstrual period.

The leading cause of complications and neonatal death is preterm birth, which affects approximately 15 million births a year worldwide. Provisional data for 2017 from the National Center for Health Statistics show that the preterm birth rate in the USA has reached 9.93%, up from 9.86% in 2016, the third consecutive annual increase after steady declines over the previous seven years.

Quake's team found that, in women at increased risk of preterm delivery, the blood test predicted premature labor with 75 to 80 percent accuracy.

Preterm births occur in approximately 12 percent of all live births in the US - and it is the cause of about 70 percent of newborn deaths, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Ultrasound measurements and measures of fetal fibronectin (fFN) have similarly had low positive predictive value. "To date, no test on the market can reliably predict which pregnant moms will go on to preterm labor".

The gestational-age test was developed by studying a cohort of 31 women who gave blood weekly throughout their full-term pregnancies.

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He added that the findings affirm the existence of a "transcriptomic clock of pregnancy" that could serve as a new way to assess the gestational age of a foetus. Further development and validation of an initial model resulted in the identification of a panel nine placenta-specific RNAs (CGA, CAPN6, CGB, ALPP, CSHL1, PLAC4, PSG7, PAPPA, and LGALS14) in maternal blood that could predict gestational age. "It tells us a lot about human development in normal pregnancy".

The same approach can also be used during the first trimester to estimate the due date with about 45 percent accuracy - a rate similar to ultrasound, a more expensive and invasive test.

When will a pregnant woman actually deliver her baby?

Though his daughter is now 16 and doing well, the preemie experience stuck with the dad, who hopes the tests could help understand and reduce preterm births.

The study to predict women's due dates included expectant mothers in Denmark who submitted a blood sample each week throughout their pregnancies.

Now, using powerful genetic techniques, Stanford scientists are closing in on that dream with a preliminary tool that requires only a pregnant woman's blood sample.

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