Photo: India Times
Scientists have developed a new blood test that would allow pregnant women to exactly find out when they’d be going into labour.
It is no secret that due dates for women expecting a child are known to almost always be inaccurate. However, the new blood test actually highlights the ‘pre-labor stage two to four weeks before the birth of a baby.
It does this by tracking a few key components in the blood -- a surge in hormones as the body gets ready for birth, reduction in blood cell formation as well as other immune cells and proteins.
Published in the journal Science Translational Medicine the blood test has been trialed on 63 women as of now -- all of whom had a natural birth without being induced. In the study, they looked for more than 7,000 biological markers that could help predict their due dates. Out of the 7000, they found 45 biological markers that were crucial -- including a spike in steroid hormone progesterone that’s known to be an important player during the final phases of giving birth.
Along with this, researchers found regulatory immune protein IL-1R4 that spiked 30 days before the labor. This protein, according to researchers could play an important role in diminishing the body’s immune response so as to not make the immune system get out of control.
The blood tests also showed proteins that help the placenta in forming blood vessels drop down in numbers, indicating the placenta is preparing itself to disconnect blood supply from the womb. They also saw a spike in proteins that help the mother heal after pregnancy also increased 100 days before the expected due date.
In the study, researchers tried to predict the due dates for five women who unexpectedly gave birth early before 37 weeks. The system wasn’t able to predict these well with the tests being wrong by an average of 27 days.
However, researchers working on this blood test claim that its accuracy will improve after being tested on larger numbers. And when it does become more accurate, experts believe that it could help detect premature births and give babies steroids to strengthen their lungs before they’re born early.
Researchers however say that for the study to be applicable, it would take at least two more years of further research and development.