How a simple blood test can identify women at risk for prete
One in ten babies is born prematurely in the United States, but a blood test during a routine prenatal visit could reveal if a woman is at risk of preterm delivery, according to a researcher.

Researchers studied 157 healthy mothers with no history of preterm births, among them 51 who subsequently gave birth preterm. Researchers looked at second-trimester data for evidence of biomarkers that could signal preterm delivery.

The CRY2 and CLOCK genes belong to a family of genes responsible for cell circadian rhythms.

Investigator said that each human cell has its own 24-hour clock that keeps track of time inside the cell. Low levels of mRNA, or messenger DNA, in those two genes is associated with a higher risk of preterm birth, suggesting these genes provide information as to when labor should start.

Decreased levels of mRNA in the mother's blood become present during the second trimester of pregnancy when most women have an important 20-week prenatal appointment to screen for Down syndrome. This presents the ideal time to also test for the risk of preterm delivery.

"If we could measure women's mRNA levels and tell them for their second or third pregnancies, that they aren't at risk for a preterm birth because their levels are higher (in a normal/healthy range), that would be such a comfort to the mothers who previously had a preterm birth," he said.

Biology of Reproduction
Source: https://doi.org/10.1093/biolre/ioab119
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