A blood test which can inform mothers-to-be if they are at risk of a premature birth has been developed by scientists at the University of Utah.

The researchers were able to spot 80 per cent of premature births using the blood test, which was taken during the second trimester. They identified three new peptides in the blood of eight out of 10 women who gave birth prematurely, the report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology revealed.

Dr Sean Esplin, the lead author of the report and obstetrician and professor of maternal-foetal medicine at the University of Utah, said: "With pre-term birth, if we could even prolong a pregnancy by one or two weeks, we could make a very big impact on the number of babies that survive and make sure that those that survive are healthy.

"With just one intervention, we could have a really huge impact."

The researchers' blood test has received a patent in the US and could go on sale there from next year, although Dr Esplin has not ruled out further trials in the meantime.

Posted by Robert Mair on 6.9.11 Please send your comments on this article to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com 

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