A novel and non-invasive way of determining if a pregnant woman may deliver preterm, has been discovered. It seems that pregnant women with lower salivary levels of progesterone may have a greater likelihood of delivering preterm. Atleast this is what the experts from the University College London and King’s College London believe.
The discovery of this method is believed to be useful to expecting mothers to receive the required medical care in order to aid in the development of the yet-to-be-born child’s lungs. This may in turn lower the risk of developing disability and neonatal morbidity.
Apparently a number of children are believed to be born prematurely in the UK every year. It seems that the reason why these children are born before 37 weeks gestation is still misty and not very clear yet.
For the purpose of better understanding this, the experts were noted to have assessed more than 90 pregnant women who were believed to have greater risk of entering preterm labor. All these women were seemingly tested for their salivary levels of progesterone, which is a crucial female sex hormone.
It was observed that the women giving birth before 34 weeks seemed to have much lower salivary levels of progesterone as compared to those giving birth after a period of 37 weeks.
Lead author Professor Lucilla Poston, from the Maternal and Fetal Research Unit, King’s College London, says, “Saliva is easy to collect, there is no need for a needle or a blood sample and it would be wonderful if in the future we only had to ask a pregnant woman to produce a small sample of saliva to know whether or not she was at risk of very premature birth.”
Although the process in which progesterone influences pregnancy gestation is not very clear yet, it is believed that progesterone has anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore low levels of this hormone could possibly lead to bacterial infection, which is thought to be a known cause of preterm birth. However a bigger analysis soon to be conducted on the issue may perhaps aid in validating these preliminary findings.
These findings have been presented in the issue of the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.