STANFORD, CA (CBS Local) – A new blood test is showing promising results for helping pregnant women know if they are at risk of a premature birth.
Researchers at Stanford University say the new technique will also calculate a woman’s due date and whether or not she will have a premature delivery. This is much less expensive than standard ultrasound procedures.READ MORE: Next Weather: Dry, Mild Thursday Before Top 10 Weather Day On Friday
“We found that a handful of genes are very highly predictive of which women are at risk for preterm delivery,” Dr. Mads Melbye said in a press release. “I’ve spent a lot of time over the years working to understand preterm delivery. This is the first real, significant scientific progress on this problem in a long time.”READ MORE: Sign Bearing George Floyd's Name Unveiled At 38th And Chicago
The blood test reportedly measures maternal, placental, and fetal genes in the mother’s cell-free RNA. Those “messenger” molecules carry genetic instructions around the body, giving the scientists reliable information about the baby’s age in the womb and risk for an early delivery.
“This gives a super-high resolution view of pregnancy and human development that no one’s ever seen before,” Stanford postdoctoral scholar Thuy Ngo added. The study, published in Science, says the new blood examination can predict a premature delivery with 75 to 80 percent accuracy.MORE NEWS: 'It's Bizarre': Southern Minnesota Ghost Town Still Attracting Summer Visitors
The noninvasive procedure may help doctors prepare for difficult pregnancies, which can endanger the child’s life. Premature deliveries account for nine percent of births in the U.S. and are the leading cause of infant mortality in the country.