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TTM Ngo, MN Moufarrej, MH Rasmussen, J Camunas-Soler, W Pan, J Okamoto, NF Neff, K Liu, RJ Wong, K Downes, R Tibshirani, GM Shaw, L Skotte, DK Stevenson, JR Biggio, MA Elovitz, M Melbye and SR Quake
Abstract
Noninvasive blood tests that provide information about fetal development and gestational age could potentially improve prenatal care. Ultrasound, the current gold standard, is not always affordable in low-resource settings and does not predict spontaneous preterm birth, a leading cause of infant death. In a pilot study of 31 healthy pregnant women, we found that measurement of nine cell-free RNA (cfRNA) transcripts in maternal blood predicted gestational age with comparable accuracy to ultrasound but at substantially lower cost. In a related study of 38 women (23 full-term and 15 preterm deliveries), all at elevated risk of delivering preterm, we identified seven cfRNA transcripts that accurately classified women who delivered preterm up to 2 months in advance of labor. These tests hold promise for prenatal care in both the developed and developing worlds, although they require validation in larger, blinded clinical trials.
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