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Blood test for pregnant women might predict preterm birth

Gorkha Post

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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.

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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.

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Sudden cardiac arrests are more likely to happen on any day at any time : Study

Raghu Kshitiz

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Representationa image

A new study has showed that sudden cardiac arrests are more likely to happen on any day at any time, challenging previous claims that weekday mornings — especially Mondays — were the danger zones.

Previously heart experts have long believed that weekday mornings were the danger zones for unexpected deaths from sudden cardiac arrests.

“While there are likely several reasons to explain why more cardiac arrests happen outside of previously identified peak times, stress is likely a major factor,” said Sumeet Chugh, a Professor of medicine from the Smidt Heart Institute in the US.

“We now live in a fast-paced, ‘always on’ era that causes increased psycho-social stress and possibly an increase in the likelihood of sudden cardiac arrest,” Chugh added.

Almost 17 million cardiac deaths occur annually worldwide while the survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest is less than one per cent.

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For the study, published in the journal Heart Rhythm, Chugh’s team analysed data on 1,535 from the community-based Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study between 2004 to 2014, among which only 13.9 per cent died in the early morning hours, the findings revealed.

All reported cases were based on emergency medical service reports containing detailed information regarding the cause of the cardiac arrest.

“Because sudden cardiac arrest is usually fatal, we have to prevent it before it strikes,” Chugh said. “Our next steps are to conclusively determine the underlying reasons behind this shift, then identify public health implications as a result,” he added.

Apart from stress, other contributing factors may be a shift in how high-risk patients are being treated, as well as inadequacies in how past studies have measured time of death caused by sudden cardiac arrest.

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