Research: Fibronectin Testing
Emma Parry researcher goes on to discuss Fibronectin testing for threatened preterm labour.
Pre-labour contractions occur in up to 5% of pregnancies. In most pregnancies these settle and no treatment is required. If preterm labour is a risk, the mother is usually given two steroid injections to help prepare the baby’s lungs for birth. Tablets are also given to stop the contractions for 48 hours while the steroids are administered. The mother is usually in hospital.
For most women, this level of treatment is not necessary. In 2002 a new test was introduced to National Women’s Hospital that makes it easier to identify women who are not going to deliver prematurely. If the fetal fibronectin test is negative, there is a 99.5% chance the baby will not be born in the next 10 days.
Dr Emma Parry conducted an audit of practice before and after National Women’s started using the fetal fibronectin test. The audit revealed that using the test resulted in shorter hospital stays for women with preterm contractions, and fewer the interventions.
A few clues to preventing miscarriage and premature births
An article in New Scientist in April 2011 offers us a few clues into how we can prevent pre mature births and miscarriage. The article states that:
One in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, and the risk increases with the age of the mother. Patricia Hunt and colleagues at Washington State University in Pullman have now identified a surprising contributing factor: a lack of quality control during egg-making.
Hunt's team found that not all of the immature egg cells, or oocytes, produced by mice contain the correct number of chromosomes. Egg or sperm cells divide through a process called meiosis, rather than the mitosis that is typical of cell division elsewhere in the body. There are several checks in place to make sure that meiosis occurs correctly, but Hunt's team found that this process isn't as strictly controlled in eggs as it is in sperm
Specifically, when the pairs of chromosomes line up at what is called the meiotic spindle at the centre of the parent cell, they should await a chemical signal called the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) before dividing into daughter cells. However, the team found that eggs bend this rule. When they observed eggs dividing in ovaries removed from mice, they noticed that the SAC trigger for cell division waits for most - but not all - of the chromosomes to be lined up correctly. The consequence is either too many or too few chromosomes in the resulting egg cells, which can lead to birth defects or miscarriage.
Click here to read more about premature births and a study by researchers which has shown that variations in a gene called FSHR were more frequent in mothers who gave birth before 37 weeks of gestation: link
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