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Protein Screen Warns of Problem Pregnancies

A sample of amniotic fluid can predict infections, preemie birth, scientists say

THURSDAY, Feb. 2, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists believe a "profile" of key proteins in amniotic fluid could give doctors accurate, quick warning of problem pregnancies, including potentially dangerous infections or premature delivery.

"Our goal was to create a test that could more accurately predict which pregnancies with preterm labor are at risk for fetal complications from intrauterine inflammation/infection," study author Dr. Catalin S. Buhimschi, of Yale University, said in a prepared statement.

Buhimschi and her colleagues received an award for their work from the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation.

The study included an analysis of amniotic fluid samples from 135 women with premature labor symptoms.

"We found that profiling the proteins in amniotic fluid for markers of inflammation -- a proteomic profile -- not only yielded results twice as fast as other tests, but those results were also much more accurate," she said. "We discovered that the presence of fewer than two biomarkers for inflammation meant the median time for delivery was five to six days. If all the biomarkers for inflammation were present, delivery time was within hours."

"Research such as this is vital if we are to understand the basic mechanisms underlying preterm birth and find ways to prevent or treat it," Dr. Nancy S. Green, medical director of the March of Dimes, said in a prepared statement. "Dr. Buhimschi's work is exciting because it offers a potential new tool to identify women who are at highest risk for a preterm delivery. For these women, knowing their risk and managing it might lead to dramatic improvements in the health of their babies," Green said.

The findings were presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Miami.

More information

The March of Dimes has more about pregnancy complications.

SOURCE: March of Dimes, news release, Feb. 2, 2006
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