Pregnancy :: Noninvasive diagnostic test for serious infections in pregnancy

Scientists have discovered the basis for a noninvasive test to diagnose common infections in pregnant women that are a major cause of premature births and infant deaths. The University of Washington?s Michael G. Gravett and colleagues are reporting identification of protein biomarkers for these hard-to-diagnose infections of the amniotic fluid, which surrounds the fetus prior to birth.

Prematurity complicates 12.5 percent of all births, causing an estimated 400,000 preterm births annually in the United States, and involves health care costs in excess of $26 billion annually. Intra-amniotic infection (IAI) is an important and potentially preventable cause of preterm birth, responsible for one-half of extremely preterm births and very low birth-weight babies.

In the study, reported in the Jan. 5 issue of the monthly ACS Journal of Proteome Research, scientists describe identifying protein biomarkers for those infections in the cervical and vaginal fluid of rhesus monkeys. The discovery, they state, ?provides an opportunity for development of noninvasive reliable tests for the diagnosis of IAI.?

Such tests, they indicate, could diagnose IAI earlier and more accurately than existing diagnostic methods. Those methods include blood tests and amniocentesis, in which a needle is used to take amniotic fluid through the abdominal wall.

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