A recent study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology revealed that scientists at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have developed a test that can help predict if a woman will go into labor and give birth prematurely. This kind of discovery could have a major future impact on the health and well-being of moms and babies, since premature birth (babies born prior to 37 weeks) accounts for more than half a million babies in the United States alone (source: March of Dimes) and is responsible for several infant health complications.
The test combines results from a woman's blood protein analysis and an ultrasound that determines her cervical length. Scientists claim that the test can predict with 75 to 80 percent accuracy if a woman will give birth within seven days after the onset of contractions. Based on the test's results, doctors can administer medication to speed up baby's lung development and delay the full onset of labor.
While further studies need to be done to confirm the efficacy of this new test, the news gives hope that we are on the brink of an advancement that will be able to detect preterm labor and prevent premature birth and its associated complications. Any woman who has given birth to a premature baby and any woman who has waited anxiously in her pregnancy to get beyond 37 weeks to feel a sense of relief for having avoided preterm labor can certainly appreciate this news!
For a more in-depth review of the study, take a look at this report covered on redOrbit.