Researchers have developed a blood test that can predict a pregnant woman’s risk of premature delivery with up to 80 percent accuracy.
Developed by a team of scientists led by researchers at Stanford University, the tests could help reduce problems related to premature birth, which affects 15 million infants worldwide each year.
The blood tests are described in a paper that published online June 7 in Science.
The technique can also be used to estimate a fetus’s gestational age—or the mother’s due date—as reliably as and less expensively than ultrasound.
The test is not ready for prime time, stressed senior researcher Stephen Quake,PhD, a professor at Stanford University in California. It still has to be validated in larger studies of more diverse groups of women, he said.
Quake shares senior authorship with Mads Melbye, MD, visiting professor of medicine. The lead authors are former Stanford postdoctoral scholar Thuy Ngo, PhD, and Stanford graduate student Mira Moufarrej.
Quake’s team found that, in women at increased risk of premature delivery, the blood test predicted premature labor with 75 to 80 percent accuracy. According to Quake, that level of accuracy is good enough to be used in routine practice — but more work is needed to see whether that performance holds up in larger studies.
Until now, doctors have lacked a reliable way to predict whether pregnancies will end prematurely, and have struggled to accurately predict delivery dates for all types of pregnancies, especially in low-resource settings.
Suicide can’t be predicted by asking about suicidal thoughts : Study
Most people who died of suicide deny they experience suicidal thoughts when asked by doctors in the weeks and months leading up to their death, a major Australian study has found.
The findings, co-authored by clinical psychiatrist and Professor Matthew Large from UNSW’s School of Psychiatry, Sydney that published in the journal BJPsych Open The meta-analysis challenge the widely-held assumption that psychiatrists can predict who will suicide by asking if they are preoccupied with thoughts of killing themselves.
The study showed that 80% of patients who were not undergoing psychiatric treatment and who died of suicide reported not to have suicidal thoughts when asked by their psychiatrist or GP.
“If you meet someone who has suicidal ideation there is a 98 per cent chance that they are not going to suicide,” said Professor Large, an international expert on suicide risk assessment who also works in the emergency department of a major Sydney hospital.
“But what we didn’t know was how frequently people who go on to suicide have denied having suicidal thoughts when asked directly,” he added.
“This study proves we can no longer ration psychiatric care based on the presence of suicidal thoughts alone. We need to provide high-quality, patient-centred care for everyone experiencing mental illness, whether or not they reveal they are experiencing suicidal thoughts,” Professor Large said.
About one in 10 people will have suicidal ideation in their lifetime. But the study showed suicidal ideation alone was not rational grounds for deciding who gets treatment and who does not, Professor Large said.
“We know that suicide feeling is pretty common and that suicide is actually a rare event, even among people with severe mental illness,” Professor Large added.
Suicidal ideation tells us an awful lot about how a person is feeling, their psychological distress, sometimes their diagnosis and their need for treatment but it’s not a meaningful test of future behaviour.
Suicidal feelings can fluctuate rapidly and people may suicide very impulsively after only a short period of suicidal thoughts.
But, people had good reasons not to disclose thoughts of suicide, fearing stigma, triggering over-reactions or upsetting family and friends, and being involuntarily admitted for psychiatric treatment, Professor Large said.
Professor Large emphasized that clinicians should not assume that patients experiencing mental distress without reporting suicidal ideas were not at elevated risk of suicide.