Renowned New York obstetrician and gynecologist Pedram Bral has endorsed the PreTRM blood test, which predicts a woman’s risk of having a pre-term baby.
Pre-term birth is linked to cerebral palsy and several other long-term medical risks, and researchers hope to identify such women through close monitoring and interventions to prevent early delivery.
“Being able to provide women with the PreTRM test is a truly valuable resource,” Bral, who will offer the test at his clinic — Manhattan Women’s Health & Wellness — said in a press release. “By identifying those women more at risk in a relatively early stage of pregnancy, we can work out the most suitable treatments to manage this risk, hopefully reducing the chance their child will be born pre-term so they can look forward to a happier outcome.”
The PreTRM blood test uses a signature of two proteins to predict the risk of pre-term delivery. Last year, the test was validated in a study, “Development and validation of a spontaneous pre-term delivery predictor in asymptomatic women,” that appeared in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Researchers sampled 5,501 women and found that blood levels of IBP4 (insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 4) and SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin) together could predict spontaneous pre-term delivery in women without specific symptoms. The test provides a risk score of the likelihood to give birth prematurely, and the study detected that women with higher scores tended to give birth earlier than those with lower risk scores.
The test accurately predicted all pre-term births, defined as those before week 37. Predictions of births before week 36 and 35 of pregnancy were even higher, and the test accurately spotted women who gave birth as early as week 19.
“The development of this test is extremely important especially as this is an excellent study that proves its worth” Bral said. “Before the introduction of the PreTRM test, gynecologists had to rely on more traditional and often far less accurate indicators. These included short cervical length and a woman’s history of pre-term birth. In the absence of these indicators, a woman would often be in premature labor before their condition became known.”
Besides close monitoring and interventions for women at risk of having pre-term babies, the test lets researchers understand more about why some babies are born too early. Such knowledge could, in turn, lead to new interventions to prevent pre-term delivery. In addition to cerebral palsy, pre-term babies suffer a risk of learning and other developmental disabilities, vision and hearing loss, seizures, and chronic lung diseases.