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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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Type 2 diabetics can reduce cardiovascular disease risk

Raghu Kshitiz

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With proper treatment and not smoking, individuals with type 2 diabetes can significantly reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a new study in Sweden.

Individuals with type 2 diabetes have 10 times the risk for heart attack, heart failure and stroke, and five times the risk for premature death compared with the control group.

In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at University of Gothenburg in Sweden said that the increased risks could be theoretically eliminated.

“The study shows that patients with type 2 diabetes with all risk factors within therapeutic target range had an extremely low risk of premature death, heart attack and stroke. This is definitely good news,” author Aidin Rawshani, a doctoral student at the Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, said in a press release.

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For the study, researchers analyzed data on 271,174 patients with type 2 diabetes registered in the Swedish National Diabetes Register from 1998-2014 and matched with 1.35 million controls on the basis of age, sex and county. In a median followup of 5.7 years, there were 175,345 deaths.

Risk factors that can be controlled by medication, and cigarette abstinence, are blood pressure, long-term blood glucose, lipid status, renal function and smoking, according to the researchers.

Smoking was the most important risk factor for premature death and an elevated blood glucose level was the most dangerous factor for heart attack and stroke.

“By optimizing these five risk factors, all of which can be influenced, you can come a long way,” Rawshani said adding, “We have shown that the risks can be greatly reduced, and in some cases may even be eliminated.”

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In some cases, patients with type 2 diabetes have no more than a 10 percent elevated risk of premature death, heart attack and stroke compared with the general population. The risk for heart failure is 45 percent higher among those with type 2 diabetes in those instances.

In addition, the risk of complications, especially heart failure, is greatest among those under 55 years.

“This makes it extra important to check and treat risk factors if you are younger with type 2 diabetes.” Rawshani added.

With Agency Inputs

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