To help physicians non-invasively identify women at risk for preterm birth, 3-D ultrasound was used to measure the size of fetal adrenal glands, according to an abstract presented by Yale School of Medicine researchers at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine Conference February 8 in San Francisco.
Preterm birth is a major public health problem with lasting repercussions on families and society. The authors found that the ultrasound measurements could identify a preterm risk of delivery within five days of the measurement.
?Our results suggest that examining the fetal adrenal gland at the time a woman is evaluated for symptoms of preterm labor, may have major beneficial clinical implications,? said first author Ozhan Turan, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine. Turan conducted the study with senior author Catalin Buhimschi, M.D., director of Perinatal Research at Yale Ob/Gyn.
The authors said that understanding the time when a marker becomes positive in relationship to preterm birth is essential for a test with high diagnostic accuracy. ?The high accuracy, sensitivity and specificity of the adrenal gland volume in predicting preterm birth within five days from the time of examination proves that 3-dimensional ultrasound evaluation of the fetal adrenal gland has the desired test characteristics to define a population at risk,? they said.
The current study creates the basis for further prospective studies to confirm that 3-dimensional ultrasound assessment of the fetal adrenal gland volume can assist clinicians with devising better therapeutic and preventive interventions for preterm birth.
Other authors on the abstract included Sifa Turan, Edmund Funai, Irina Buhimschi and Joshua Copel.