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!