Blood Test to Predict Due Dates and Preterm Birth Scientists have developed a blood test they say can be used to predict a pregnant woman's due date and potentially identify women at risk for giving birth prematurely.
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.
The test was also used to predict preterm birth up to two months ahead of labour starting. It was as accurate as the current method of ultrasound and more accurate than guesses based on woman's last menstrual period. Ultrasound is expensive and not always feasible in low-resource settings, while maternal estimates may not be reliable. Right now, prematurity affects 9 percent of US births, and preterm birth and its complications are the leading cause of death in children under age 5 worldwide.
Recent research from the U.S. has shown that the number of premature births climbed to 9.93pc in 2017, up from 9.86 in 2016, making it the third consecutive annual increase after steady declines over the previous seven years.
In the past, doctors have lacked a way to predict which pregnancies will end more than three weeks before the mother's due date.
In the United States, over 9 percent of births are premature - before the 37th week of pregnancy.
The new test tracks what's happening in pregnancy via genetic clues in the mother's blood.
This is why the latest research findings are so groundbreaking for women and infants.
The New York Times reported that the research, which is still in preliminary stages, detects changes in RNA in a pregnant woman's blood and can estimate due dates within 2 weeks in almost half the cases.
Describing the blood test, the research team's principal investigator, David Stevenson, likened it to "eavesdropping on a conversation" between the mother, the foetus and the placenta, without disturbing the pregnancy. 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. The blood test predicted reliable signals of the premature birth and gestational age with almost 80% accuracy.
In a study of 38 women at risk of preterm delivery, RNA markers were also identified. Using RNA sequencing technology, the team was able to identify a set of seven cfNRAS (CLCN3, DAPP1, PPBP, MAP3K7CL, MOB1B, RAB27B, and RGS18) that differentiated between the preterm and full-term samples.
The journal Science reported in its June issue, published Thursday, a promising new study of "non-invasive" ways to monitor fetal development, and predict gestational age and pre-term delivery.