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Which Pregnant Women Are at Risk?

Credit: Olesia Bilkei/Adobe

Credit: Olesia Bilkei/Adobe

By Claire Roberts & Tina Bianco-Miotto

A new screening test can identify the risk of pregnancy complications based on a genetic test in conjunction with lifestyle factors.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Women who are pregnant for the first time are largely unaware that the four main complications of pregnancy – pre­eclampsia, preterm birth, intrauterine growth restriction and gestational diabetes – occur in one-quarter of first pregnancies. Worryingly, the number of these pregnancy complications is rising, and they contribute to poor health outcomes for mothers and babies in both the short and long term.

Currently there are no effective screening tools in clinical practice that can accurately predict any complications of pregnancy in women who are pregnant for the first time. While there are models to predict some of these complications in women who have previously given birth, they rely heavily on previous pregnancy history and their use is still confined to a small number of UK hospitals. Furthermore, their accuracy is modest at best.

However, our research group has used data from nearly 3000 pregnant women in Adelaide and Auckland, their partners and babies to develop robust models to predict risk for each of the four pregnancy complications with low false positives and negatives. These will be offered as a genetic test, for which a small blood or saliva sample is required from both the pregnant woman and her partner at 12–15 weeks gestation.

We have already identified specific gene variants in both the pregnant woman and her partner that, when...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.