Claudia Boyd-Barrettposted in Pregnancy
Scientists are working on a blood test that could one day predict your due date without the need for an ultrasound or asking you to remember when you had your last menstrual period.
The test, which is still being developed, may also be used to detect whether you’re at risk of giving birth prematurely, according to scientists at Stanford University.
Stanford and Danish researchers examined the blood of more than 31 women every week during their pregnancies. They noticed that levels of some genetic messenger molecules, called RNA, changed as the women’s pregnancies progressed.
Using blood samples from two thirds of the women, the researchers created a model to predict how RNA levels change over the course of pregnancy. They tested the model on the remaining 10 women’s blood samples, and found they could predict the baby’s age and due date with 45 percent accuracy, or within 14 days of the actual due date. That’s similar to the accuracy rate of ultrasounds during the first trimester, the researchers said.
Next, the scientists used a version of the model to see if they could predict a woman’s risk of preterm delivery. This time, they used blood samples from two previous studies involving 38 women with high-risk pregnancies. By applying their model, the researchers correctly guessed whether the women would deliver preterm more than 75 percent of the time, according to the paper published in the journal Science.
There’s still a lot more work to do to validate this type of test before healthcare providers can use it. The researchers are planning a much larger study to see if the test works when applied to a broader population of women.
If the test does work, it could make predicting your due date a lot easier and cheaper in the future. It could also be another tool to help doctors identify high-risk pregnancies early on and prepare for preterm deliveries, potentially saving babies’ lives.
Given that 1 in every 10 infants is born prematurely, that could make a huge difference!
Would you take a blood test to predict your baby’s due date if it were available?