RENO, NV (Feb. 10, 2005) – For the first time, researchers have successfully profiled the amniotic fluid metabolome (the sum of all metabolic processes occurring in the amniotic fluid), in order to identify which women who have experienced preterm labor are also at risk for delivering a premature baby. With nearly one in eight babies in the U.S. born prematurely every year, and the problem of premature birth increasing, the need for tools that can identify preterm delivery risk has never been greater, experts say.
The news was announced today at the 25th annual Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) meeting here.
"We studied the amniotic fluid of three groups of patients – those with preterm labor who delivered at term, those with intra-amniotic inflammation who had both preterm labor and delivery, and those with no sign of inflammation who still had preterm labor and delivery," said Roberto Romero, M.D., lead study author and SMFM member. "We discovered that by using metabolic profiling, 96 percent of the time we could correctly identify the patients as belonging to the appropriate clinical group.
"A second study, in a different set of patients with a larger sample size, has already confirmed the effectiveness of our method. Until now, we have never had a way to predict the course of preterm labor with such accuracy. Metabolomic profiling has given us that tool," Dr. Romero said.
"Prematurity is a common, serious, and growing problem in this country," said Nancy S. Green, M.D., medical director of the March of Dimes. "More research to identify and address the risk factors for prematurity are needed if we are to reverse this trend. The innovative nature of this study has earned it our annual award for the best research paper on prematurity."
The study, "Metabolomics in Premature Labor: A Novel Approach to Identify Patients at Risk for Preterm Delivery," is a joint effort by maternal-fetal medicine specialists from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, and other groups.
This is the second year that the March of Dimes has worked with the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine to identify cutting-edge prematurity research. It is part of the March of Dimes' multi-year, multi-million-dollar prematurity campaign aimed at reducing the growing rate of premature births through research and awareness. For more information on this campaign, visit http://www.marchofdimes.com/prematurity/. The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies.
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