A new test can detect the likelihood of premature birth with 75-80 percent accuracy.
A team of scientists and researchers at Stanford University have developed tests that could help fight complications associated with premature birth (when the baby is born three or more weeks early), something that impacts 15 million children annually. Up until now, there was no reliable and accurate way to foresee a premature pregnancy but this new type of blood test can detect this outcome with 75 to 80 percent accuracy.
The tests analyze the amount of maternal, placental, and fetal gene activity by measuring the makeup of RNA, cell-free molecules that transport genetic code to other parts of the body. By looking at different blood cells, the team was able to determine which genes indicated the likelihood of premature birth as well as gestational age.
As premature birth is the largest cause of infant mortality in the country, this new type of testing can open the doors to more research and offer insight into the cause. The mechanisms that play a role in pre-term births are still a mystery but scientists are planning to investigate further and potentially even come up with medications to delay it, which can potentially save lives.