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Early birth risk saliva test

22nd July 2009

Experts believe a simple saliva test could help spot which women are likely to go into premature labour.

It has been discovered by UK researchers that women going into labour very early had abnormally low progesterone levels in their saliva.

This study appears in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

In the UK more than 50,000 babies are born prematurely each year. Experts suspect the progesterone hormone plays some part.  Studies are underway to test whether giving women more of this hormone during pregnancy will cut the risk of a preterm birth.

Researchers studied 92 women deemed to be at increased risk of having a preterm birth, and found the women who delivered before 34 weeks had much lower salivary levels of progesterone than those giving birth at term, after 37 weeks.

University College London and King's College London researchers, believe monitoring progesterone levels in saliva could provide a cheap and convenient marker for the condition.

Lead author Professor Lucilla Poston, from the Maternal and Foetal Research Unit at King's College London, said they were now planning a much larger study to validate preliminary findings.

 

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