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New screening for pregnant women

New screening for pregnant women
Photo: New screening for pregnant women
Trials of a new screening test for common pregnancy complications have been successful, say Adelaide researchers.

Researchers say they've come up with a new screening test to predict a woman's risk of developing one or more of the four common pregnancy complications.

Early trials involving 3200 pregnant women in Adelaide and Auckland have been highly successful, said Professor Claire Roberts from the University of Adelaide on Tuesday.

The researchers developed algorithms, or calculations, that combine subtle variations in DNA sequences in genes involved in placental development with clinical, socioeconomic, lifestyle and family history data that can predict a woman's risk of having a complication.

Prof Roberts said one-quarter of first pregnancies in Australia are affected by one of the major complications - pre-eclampsia, pre-term birth, intrauterine growth restriction or gestational diabetes.
"The screening test identifies a woman's risk for pregnancy complications and what those complications may be, which allows for earlier intervention and treatment," she said.

"For example, if it is identified in early pregnancy that a woman is at risk of developing pre-eclampsia, low dose aspirin before 16 weeks gestation could delay the onset of the condition or prevent it completely."

The next step is to test women across Australia and commercialise the algorithms for world-wide use, she said.

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