A simple saliva test `to determine premature births`

London: Here`s some good news for the to-be-moms! A simple saliva test that spots hormone levels in pregnant women can determine a premature birth, a new study has claimed.

According to scientists, the test identifies pregnant
women who are likely to give birth prematurely by detecting
levels of progesterone, which helps stop the womb contracting
before the full term of 40 weeks.

Low levels of the hormone can put women at risk of
delivering more than six weeks early. And the test could soon
be developed to reduce the number of premature births, which
are classified as those taking place before 37 weeks.

Lead author Prof Lucilla Poston said: "Saliva is easy
to collect, there is no need for a needle or a blood sample
and it would be wonderful if in the future we only had to ask
a pregnant woman to produce a small sample of saliva to know
whether or not she was at risk of very early premature birth."

Prof Poston of King`s College London and colleagues at
University College London found women who gave birth before 34
weeks had far lower levels of progesterone than those who had
their babies from 37 weeks.

They analysed saliva samples for 92 women between
24 weeks and 34 weeks of pregnancy. The expectant mothers had
all been identified as being at risk of premature birth for
reasons such as a history of pre-term birth and miscarriage.

Twenty-eight gave birth before 37 weeks and 64
delivered at term. Saliva progesterone levels were lower in
the 12 women delivering before 34 weeks. Among the women who
gave birth before 34 weeks, levels of the hormone also failed
to rise during pregnancy in the normal way.

It is the first time lower saliva concentrations of
progesterone have been investigated in women known to be at
higher risk of premature birth, the researchers said.

The study has been published in the the `BJOG: An
International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology`.

Bureau Report