PREGNANCY: New blood test can predict premature birth risk

27 June 2016
Reading time1 min

A team of researchers and scientists from The University of Western Australia has developed a blood test that can identify women who are at risk of having a premature birth as early as 18 weeks as into their pregnancy – even those not displaying symptoms.

The test is the most accurate one to date, with an 86 per cent accuracy in determining mothers at risk of early delivery. And it provides the earliest detection of premature birth.

Premature birth is the main cause of death and disability of babies globally and accounts for approximately eight per cent of births in Australia – that’s 26,000 Australian babies born too soon each year. And aside from infant death, premature birth can result in lifelong physical ailments from organs not developing properly in the womb.

“One of the biggest problems with premature birth is that it is very hard to predict in the middle of pregnancy which deliveries will occur before 37 weeks gestation,” Associate Professor Pennell said.

“In particular, in remote areas, a simple blood test mid-pregnancy can guide which women can remain in their communities and which need to seek early specialist care.”

Associate Professor Pennell and the UWA Perinatal Genomics Research Team will undertake further evaluation of the test before it becomes available to the broader community. Watch this space!

Pregnant? Check out our pregnancy article: Nutritional tips for feeling fabulous. Or for our full guide to pregnancy, babies and beyond, check out our Babies Guide.

Written by

Angela Sutherland

After spending over 20 years on the editorial desks of some the leading magazine publishing houses of London and Sydney, Angela swapped the city frenzy for a Queensland sea change. Now owner and editor of Kids on the Coast and Kids in the City, she loves spending her days documenting and travelling the crazy road of family life alongside every mum and dad. 

When she’s not at her desk buried in magazine stories, you’ll often find her entrenched in a heated game of beach cricket, or being utterly outrun by her inventive seven-year-old and rambunctious threenager.

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