FRIDAY, June 8, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Noninvasive blood tests can predict gestational age and can identify women at risk for preterm delivery using cell-free RNA, according to a study published in the June 8 issue of Science.

Thuy T.M. Ngo, from Stanford University in California, and colleagues examined use of cell-free RNA transcript measurement in maternal blood for predicting gestational age.

The researchers found that the cell-free RNA transcripts predicted gestational age with comparable accuracy to ultrasound in a pilot study of 31 healthy pregnant women, at considerably lower cost. In a related study involving 38 women at elevated risk of delivering preterm (23 full-term, 15 preterm deliveries), seven cell-free RNA transcripts accurately classified women who delivered preterm up to two months before labor.

“These tests hold promise for prenatal care in both the developed and developing worlds, although they require validation in larger, blinded clinical trials,” the authors write.

Several authors are inventors on a patent application submitted by the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub that covers noninvasive estimates of gestational age, delivery, and preterm birth.

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