Test May Prevent Premature Births

Pregnant women can be screened for infections which might help prevent premature births, say US scientists. In the UK about 8% of babies are born prematurely, before 37 rather than the usual 40 weeks of gestation. Infection involving the sack around the baby in the womb can trigger early delivery. A simple test detects these infections say US researchers at Oregon Health & Science University in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Early testing for infections followed by treatment where necessary could prevent numerous premature births, Dr Michael Gravett and his colleagues believe. The test measures patterns of protein markers in amniotic fluid - the fluid that cushions the baby while inside the womb.

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