Fetal Adrenal Gland Volume Predicts Preterm Birth

Fetus with adrenal gland volume of 422 cubic millimeters per kilogram or more is more likely to be born preterm

WEDNESDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- The volume of the fetal adrenal glands can help predict whether a woman in premature labor will give birth in the next five days, according to a study in the April 1 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Ozhan M. Turan, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues from Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., measured fetal adrenal gland volume by three-dimensional ultrasound in 53 fetuses born to mothers with signs of preterm labor and 73 control fetuses.

The researchers found that fetal adrenal gland volume was directly associated with fetal weight. The corrected adrenal gland volume was the only significant independent predictor of premature birth. Fetuses with a corrected volume of 422 cubic millimeters per kilogram or more were more likely to be born preterm (less than 37 weeks' gestation) within five days of the measurement. The measurement had a sensitivity of 92 percent, a specificity of 99 percent, and positive and negative likelihood ratios of 93.5 and 0.08, respectively.

"Corrected adrenal gland volume measurement may identify women at risk for impending preterm birth," Turan and colleagues conclude. "This information can be generated non-invasively and in time for clinical decision making."

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