Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

'Accurate' swab test to determine risk of pre-term labour

  • Comment

A straight-forward swab test might be able to work out how likely expectant mothers are to go into premature labour, it is believed.

Academics at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust devised the test during research funded by Tommy’s, the stillbirth, miscarriage and premature birth charity.

Medical professionals will measure the amount of fetal fibronectin (fFN) which has entered the cervix from the womb during the test. If the swab test finds high levels of the protein, then the patient is more likely to go into premature labour.

Hospitals already look for the presence of fFN to determine whether a woman is likely to have a premature birth. But the new swab test will accurately measure the amount of fFN which has leaked from the patient’s womb, which should help avoid pregnant women being treated unnecessarily.

At the moment only one in 20 of the women who are deemed likely to go into labour early and treated accordingly actually go on to give birth to a premature baby.

Research leader Professor Andrew Shennan said the test was an updated version of current methods and would see fewer women with low-risk pregnancies kept in hospital for observation or given treatment which they do not need.

He said many pregnant women found being moved to other units and treatments “inconvenient and distressing” but the new, more accurate test would give a more reliable diagnosis of a woman’s risk of preterm birth.

The test will use Hologic’s 10Q analyser to precisely measure fFN levels to give an indication of the patient’s risk level within 10 minutes. This is 13 minutes quicker than existing tests, which are not quantitative.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.