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Predicting Preterm Labor

July 24, 2014

A urine test may predict premature labor and other pregnancy complications.



Predictors of premature birth. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A simple urine test may identify women at risk for preterm birth and other complications. This from a study led by biological chemist Hector Keun of Imperial College London. Keun’s team tracked 438 pregnant women living on the Greek island of Crete. They found that in early pregnancy, the levels of several small molecules in the women’s urine could predict both spontaneous and induced preterm birth, as well as poor fetal growth. It’s not clear what these molecules signify, but Keun says they’re the result of metabolic processes.

HECTOR KEUN (Imperial College London):

We think, at the moment, the most likely thing are certain dietary patterns that may also be independently contributing to diabetes, and other aspects of metabolic syndrome.

Another possibility is exposure to chemicals in the environment. Keun’s embarking on a larger study to try and answer this question. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.