A British team has developed a portable device that can predict premature birth as early as 18 weeks of pregnancy with high probability and low cost. The device is expected to hit the market soon. Every year, 15 million premature babies are born worldwide, many of them develop health complications.
According to researchers from the University of Sheffield, 15 million premature babies are born in the world each year, who may later suffer from difficulties in learning other disorders, such as visual and hearing impairment. As much as 90 percent of such children - born before 28 weeks of pregnancy, in underdeveloped countries - die within a few days because they do not have access to specialist care. In developed countries, however, less than 10 percent die. babies born extremely early.
Sheffield researchers have developed a portable device that could save many newborns.
Current methods of predicting early labor, such as ultrasound scans, are expensive and not always available, especially in poor parts of the world. The new instrument uses a method called electrical impedance spectroscopy to detect changes in the structure of the cervix. The test not only provides greater precision than the current methods, but is many times cheaper, and a portable, hand-held device means a huge advantage in accessing such tests.
The company has already started bringing the invention to the market.
“More than 1 in 10 babies are born prematurely and data show that this percentage is increasing in different parts of the world. My team has spent over four years researching the possibility of using electrical impedance spectroscopy to improve the prediction of premature births, 'concludes Prof. Dilly O'Anumba from the University of Sheffield.
“This pioneering technique will enable professionals to better prevent and manage early births. It is not only more accurate than current methods but significantly cheaper and more accessible, which is especially important in poor communities where early births are relatively frequent. Commercialization of this technology by EveryBaby could help save countless lives, both in the UK and around the world, 'the researcher says.
More information at https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/uog.22180 (PAP)