Blood test may predict premature birth

US and Danish researchers say they have developed an inexpensive blood test that may predict with up to 80 percent accuracy whether a pregnant woman will give birth prematurely.

Until now, some tests for predicting premature birth were available but they tended to work only in women at high risk and were accurate only about 20 percent of the time.

The test measures the activity of maternal, placental and foetal genes, assessing levels of cell-free RNA, which are messenger molecules that carry the body’s genetic instructions.

To develop the test, researchers examined blood samples from 31 Danish women to identify which genes gave reliable signals about gestational age and prematurity risk.

The test can be used to estimate the mother’s due date and is less expensive than an ultrasound.
After more research is done, the test eventually comes to the market.