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Preterm birth risk prediction improved

Wednesday July 7th 2021

Researchers have developed a risk prediction model that may help anticipate a preterm birth and allow necessary treatment to be given.

At present, preterm labour is difficult to predict as the signs and symptoms are nonspecific. Outcomes for preterm babies can be improved by timely interventions, but overtreatment can be dangerous.

Researchers led by Dr Sarah Stock of the University of Edinburgh, UK, looked at the usefulness of measuring foetal fibronectin together with clinical risk factors to help diagnose preterm labour.

They incorporated foetal fibronectin into a risk prediction model alongside other clinical measurements and tested it against information on 1,783 European women. Its validity was then tested on details of 2,924 UK women, and the model was found to be cost-effective compared with foetal fibronectin alone.

Details appeared in PLoS Medicine yesterday. The authors write: "The prognostic model has promising potential to improve prediction of spontaneous preterm birth."

They add: "The model is well placed to aid management decisions and discussions with women presenting with signs and symptoms of preterm labour."

Commenting on the findings, Dr Stock says: "The vast majority of women with signs and symptoms of preterm labour don't actually give birth early, but many receive unnecessary hospital admission just in case of preterm birth.

"The risk predictor developed by our research team will help women to understand their chance of giving birth early, so they can decide whether or not to have admission and treatment. We are now working towards linking the predictor to maternity records, so it can easily be used as part of women's care and be continually improved as more women use it."

Stock, S. J. et al. Development and validation of a risk prediction model of preterm birth for women with preterm labour symptoms (the QUIDS study): A prospective cohort study and individual participant data meta-analysis. PLoS Medicine 6 July 2021 doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003686

[abstract]

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Nursing & Midwifery | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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