Health Care

New Blood Test May Help Predict Due Dates For Pregnant Women

New Blood Test May Help Predict Due Dates For Pregnant Women”

There have been several studies on preterm births in the past, and the reasons for it.

The test, described in a paper publishing online today in Science, is a big step forward for babies. Right now, it's pretty much an informed guess - and that's not just inconvenient, assumptions about when a baby is due can also lead to extra medical procedures for both the mother and the baby. Preterm births affect about 15 million infants worldwide each year and 9 percent of USA births. 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. In general, there is a difficulty in predicting precisely the date of all births.

Preterm births occur in approximately 12 percent of all live births in the USA - 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. Specifically, the team targeted the RNA in the mother's blood.

This is why the latest research findings are so groundbreaking for women and infants.

The test detected the variations in RNA in a pregnant woman's blood and estimated due dates within two weeks in almost half the cases. Each blood sample was analyzed to identify expression levels of genes that were specific to the placenta and to the immune system, or were enriched in fetal liver. "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". "The model's two most important features, CGA and CGB, encoding chorionic gonadotropin α and β3 subunits of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), are known contributors to pregnancy initiation", the authors point out.

The technique can also be used to estimate a foetus's gestational age - or the mother's due date - as reliably as and less expensively than ultrasound, the researchers said.

When will a pregnant woman actually deliver her baby?

So now, new research funded by the U.S. infant research group March of Dimes has published its findings on an experimental blood test that might be able to detect when a pregnant woman is likely to deliver her baby prematurely. From seven cfRNA biomarkers, six out of eight preterm cases were correctly identified. 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%)".

"It's mostly maternal genes", Moufarrej said, noting that the genes that predict prematurity are different than those that give information about gestational age. They had blood samples taken on a weekly basis until they gave birth - on time - from which the research team was able to identify nine cfRNA biomarkers that related to gestational age.

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