Blood Test predicts pregnancy

Modesto Morganelli
Giugno 10, 2018

The test was about as reliable as using ultrasound, now the go-to method of establishing a due date. They collected their blood samples and looked into the genetic RNA particles circulating in the blood stream of each woman.

But what if there were a cheap way to predict a baby's birthday accurately, including the risk of a premature baby? Premature birth is also the largest cause of infant mortality in the U.S. Being able to predict preterm births can give parents the medical guidance they need as early as possible and help improve the baby's health.

"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", Dr. David K. Stevenson, M.D., principal investigator of the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford University, said of the findings. The other method, the ultrasound, can also be problematic because it gives less reliable information as a pregnancy progresses and doesn't predict spontaneous preterm birth (not to mention the equipment and trained technicians needed makes this option really expensive). This can become a tool to prevent unnecessary induction of labour and cesarean deliveries.

The appeal of such tests is obvious, especially to pregnant women.

Although science has developed detailed cellular and molecular portraits of both fetal and placental development, there still aren't "molecular tests that reliably predict gestational age for individual pregnancies". "The first step in decreasing our premature births is identifying who is most at risk".

Blood samples are taken from the pregnant woman and RNA is analyzed, a messenger molecule that transmits genetic instructions to the body for protein synthesis.

The researchers used blood samples from 31 women to create a model that allowed them to estimate the fetus' age based on nine free-floating RNAs, according to The Guardian.

Scientists have developed an low-cost blood test to predict a pregnant woman's due date and possibly identify women who are at risk of giving birth prematurely. The women all had full-term pregnancies.

"We found that a handful of genes are very highly predictive of which women are at risk for preterm delivery", said Mads Melbye, a visiting professor at Stanford.

"This gives a super-high resolution view of pregnancy and human development that no one's ever seen before".

Existing medical knowledge has no way of accurately assessing whether any pregnancy will result in an early delivery, but this test was shown to have identified women who would go on to deliver babies up to two months prematurely.

Dr. Quake, who invented the first noninvasive prenatal blood test for Down syndrome, said that the team is planning to go for a trial with a larger population to collect more data for the research.

However, there is still far more work to do before it could be used clinically.

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