Washington: Researchers have found a protein in the blood of pregnant women that can predict if they are likely to have a fetus that doesn’t grow properly, and thus has a high risk of stillbirth and long-term health complications.The research, led by Dr. Andree Gruslin, could lead to a widely available blood test and could help develop ways for improving the outcomes of women and their children who face this risk — estimated to be as many as one of every 20 pregnancies.Dr. Gruslin’s study focuses on a protein called Insulin Growth Factor Binding Protein 4 (IGFBP-4).While this protein has been linked to pregnancy before, this study is the first to demonstrate its important role in human pregnancy complications.A key part of the study involved examining IGFBP-4 levels in first trimester blood samples from women who participated in a large study of pregnancies and newborns called the Ottawa and Kingston (OaK) birth cohort.
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