The researchers found that screening for specific biomarkers along with understanding certain demographic information about the patient could identify the risk of most of the women in the study during their second trimester of pregnancy.
Senior author Dr. Kelli Ryckman, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, says that knowing which women are in the high risk group would allow providers to suggest additional monitoring and even offer an opportunity for intervention.
“For example, our test identified about 95 percent of women who had a preterm birth with preeclampsia before 32 weeks,” Dr. Ryckman says. “These women could be offered low-dose aspirin as a way to help lower their risk for preeclampsia.”
The test, developed and studied in 400 women during their second trimester, screened for 25 biomarkers or substances in the blood that were signs of inflammation and immune system activation, as well as certain protein levels, indicative of a possible preterm birth risk.
[Photo: Dr. Kelli Ryckman]
While the results of the study are encouraging, Dr. Ryckman notes that the test is still in very early stages of development, and more research is needed to determine its accuracy and safety.
Additional authors of the study are Drs. Laura L. Jelliffe-Pawlowski, Larry Rand, and Mary E. Norton, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine; Drs. Bruce Bedell and Jeffrey C. Murray, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine; Drs. Rebecca J. Baer and Scott P. Oltman, University of California San Diego; and Drs. Gary M. Shaw and David K. Stevenson, Stanford University School of Medicine.
Funding for the study was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, NIH/NHLBI, the March of Dimes Prematurity Center at Stanford University School of Medicine, the Stanford Child Health Research Institute at Stanford University School of Medicine, the Stanford Clinical and Translational Science Award CTSA to Spectrum, the March of Dimes Prematurity Center—Ohio Collaborative, March of Dimes, and the California Preterm Birth Initiative at the University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital.