A blood test that screens for various genetic signatures produced by women going into labor has shown promise in accurately determining whether they are on the verge of premature birth.
The BBC reported that researchers Canada, Australia and Singapore have developed the new diagnostic tool, and the journal PLOS ONE published their findings.
First, a word of caution: the results, while promising, involved just 154 women at risk of preterm labor. It is true that the diagnostic test worked for most of them, screening for those genetic markers and differentiating whether those women would give birth, or were in false labor. But more trials are needed, involving a much wider patient population, before the test can become part of standard medical care.
That's coming, in theory. Researcher Stephen Lye, of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, told the BBC that the test will be tried out at a Toronto hospital and could be widely available within 5 years. If the initial promising results could be replicated, the diagnostic would certainly fill a void, considering that women experiencing premature labor don't have an accurate test that can determine whether the contractions will stop, or labor will commence, the BBC noted.
Such a test would play a vital role in controlling healthcare costs, too, allowing precise targeting of care for women truly in premature labor, and reduce the application of care for women experience false labor pains who do not need a wider medical intervention.
The School of Women's and Infants' Health at the University of Western Australia and the Institute for Infocomm Research, Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore also participated in the work.