Blood test may predict a premature birth


US and Danish researchers developed an inexpensive blood test that may predict with up to 80% accuracy whether a pregnant woman will give birth prematurely. While more research is needed before the test is ready for widespread use, experts say it has the potential to reduce fatalities and complications from the 15 million premature births per year worldwide.

The test can also be used to estimate the mother’s due date “as reliably as and less expensively than ultrasound,” said the report in the journal Science. The test measures the activity of maternal, placental and fetal genes, assessing levels of cell-free RNA, which are messenger molecules that carry the body’s genetic instructions. “We found that a handful of genes are very highly predictive of which women are at risk for preterm delivery,” said co-senior author Mads Melbye, a visiting professor at Stanford University and CEO of the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen.



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