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Test Predicts Chance of Early Delivery in Pregnancy

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Every day nearly 1300 babies in America are born premature. A simple test can now help doctors assess a woman's risk of an early delivery, months before her due date.

Elizabeth Holoubek-Sebok is pregnant with twins and already at a higher risk of having an early delivery.

But during one of her recent check-ups, doctors found she also had a very short cervix, increasing her risk even more.

Elizabeth Holoubek-Sebok IFN Test Participant: "They approached me about doing the fetal fibronectine test to determine whether there was a risk of preterm delivery or not."

A fetal fibronectine test measures for a certain protein in a women's uterus. Doctors just take a swab and then a machine reads the sample.

If the protein is "not" detected, there is an over 99 percent chance the pregnancy will continue as normal.

"It can be a very useful test, it can prevent hospitalization."

If the protein is present a pre-term birth is more likely.

Doctors can then use drugs to try and delay the delivery or prepare the patient for an early birth.

Dr. Andrei Reberber/ NYU Medical Center: "We currently have several medications we use that have been shown to delay preterm delivery."

The test is usually given between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. But it's not for everyone. Generally, only patients with certain risk factors are given the test.

"The test came back negative, so I was able to avoid being put on bed rest or being put in the hospital."

Elizabeth got her results in just one day and found out everything is fine. She's been able to continue with her normal activities.

"I was still able to go wedding dress shopping with my sister."

And prepare for the two newest additions to her family.

The test is not currently recommended for routine screening in low risk women. Health care providers should perform the test only for symptomatic, high risk pregnancies where preterm labor is suspected.

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