Researchers find premature birth puts babies at higher risk
A new study from Europe suggests that premature babies are at a higher risk of suffering from serious health complications compared to babies born at full term. Seeking to determine ways to delay delivery and provide optimal care for babies born too early, researchers led by the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg in Sweden have developed a technique to predict if pregnant women with preterm contractions will go into labour with one week. The study was presented in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
The biggest challenge that perinatal medical experts deal with today is babies born before 37 full weeks, what they call preterm delivery. This kind of delivery raises a baby's chances of becoming seriously ill in both the short and long term. According to the researchers, just 30 % of women who come in with early contractions end up giving birth to premature babies.
For the purposes of this study, the team assessed 142 pregnant women admitted to Sahlgrenska University Hospital in the period 1995-2005 with early contractions without rupture of the membranes.
'To have time to give the woman cortisone, which speeds up the development of the foetal lungs, it is common practice to delay the delivery by a couple of days with the help of tocolytic treatment,' said Panagiotis Tsiartas, a researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and a specialist at the Obstetrical and Gynecological Clinic at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. 'Being able to predict if a woman who comes to the hospital with preterm contractions will actually give birth early and thereby requires follow-up and possible treatment is therefore very important.'
The team based its method on a novel blood test that examines two specific proteins in the woman's blood combined with an already established test that uses ultrasound to measure the cervix's length.
'Statistically, the method can predict with 75% to 80% accuracy if a woman will give birth early,' Dr Tsiartas said. 'We will need to conduct further studies before the method can be used in full, but if the results of these studies are good, the test will hopefully lead to new types of treatments to prevent premature birth and treat the serious complications resulting from it.'
Researchers from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Norway and the United Kingdom contributed to this study.
For more information, please visit:
Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg:
British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology:
Related stories: 34044
Data Source Provider: British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology; Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg
Document Reference: Tsiartas, P. et al. 'Prediction of spontaneous preterm delivery in women with threatened preterm labour: a prospective cohort study of multiple proteins in maternal serum', British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 2012, 119(7).
Subject Index: Coordination, Cooperation; Life Sciences; Medicine, Health; Scientific Research