Preterm birth prediction
Preterm birth accounts for two-thirds of infant deaths in Canada and Alberta has the highest rate of preterm births in the country. While the cause of the majority of these preterm births is unknown, it is certain premature babies face health complications and are at higher risk of developing chronic health conditions later in life like learning disabilities, eyesight problems, mental health issues and high proclivity to develop other diseases later in life.
David Olson, U of A professor of obstetrics and gynecology and member of the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI), developed a preterm delivery test that can predict if a woman will go into labour within seven days.
It’s known that just prior to delivery, the fetal membrane attracts white blood cells from the mother’s capillaries. His test involves putting a pregnant woman’s white blood cells in the top of a filtered chamber, explained Olson, with an extract from a fetal membrane in the bottom. If the woman is about to deliver, there will be a flood of white blood cells moving from the top to the bottom of the chamber. The test correctly predicted the women who were going into labour 91 per cent of the time; those who were not, 78 per cent of the time.
This test could give valuable time to obstetricians to plan a treatment that delays the labour stage. The test is patented and Olson’s team is currently working on ways to make sure it can be adapted for easy use in clinics.
The research has been funded by the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation and supporters of the Lois Hole Hospital for Women through the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI). They have also received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research as well as international grants from China, Australia and the government of the United States.
Original story: Avenue Magazine