2018-06-20

A blood test to predict the date of birth

A blood test to predict the date of birth

A simple blood test could predict quite precisely the date of birth and also the possibility that the pregnancy will end before the end. The new technique was developed by Stanford University and consists of the analysis of RNA molecules of the foetus circulating in maternal blood.

A new technique

To put this technique into practice, Stanford researchers worked on two groups of women, collecting their blood samples during pregnancy: one composed of 31 Danish women, who had given birth at the end of the nine months of gestation, and one of 38 American women at risk of preterm delivery, as they had already had contractions or with a previous premature birth.

By the group of women who had completed their pregnancy on schedule, was identified "a group of 9 molecules of Rna messenger that are a kind of clock and indicate the age of the fetus with the same precision as an ultrasound". These molecules, however, have not worked to predict in advance a possible risk of premature birth, as the estimation of gestational age by blood analysis was accurate in 45% of cases compared to the average of 48% of ultrasound ultrasound carried out in the first trimester of pregnancy.

For this reason, researchers continued to work on the second group of women, that composed of Americans at risk of preterm delivery, managing to identify 7 other genes that indicated a possible premature birth in six cases out of eight, then with an accuracy of 75-80%. "These are mainly maternal genes, other than those that provide information on gestational age", Mira Moufarrej observes, among the authors of the research. "We think," he continues, "that it is the mother who sends out a signal that she is ready to cut the string.

Today

Doctors currently use the date of the last maternal menstrual cycle and ultrasound scanning to estimate the date of birth, but the results are not always reliable. This test, however, could be truly revolutionary, but it still needs to be tested on a greater number of women. Moreover, it is also among the most economical as it is simple and does not require expensive equipment: it can also be done in structures with few resources.

Lucia Franco

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