Study: This Simple Blood Test Can Predict High-Risk Pregnancies

More

Researchers have found a protein by which doctors can monitor the likelihood of high risk pregnancies.

babyfeet_bnr.jpgShutterstock

PROBLEM: It's long been clear that a causal relationship exists between the malnourishment of a fetus and the birth of a stillborn or an alarmingly small infant. But the ability to predict the likeliness of these complications has been minimal.

METHODOLOGY: Led by Doctor Andrée Gruslin, researchers from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa examined first trimester blood samples from women who had participated in a large study of pregnancies entitled the Ottawa and Kingston birth cohort. 72 women -- half with very small babies and half with average weight babies -- were included in the study.

RESULTS: The researchers found that women with elevated levels of the protein Insulin Growth Factor Binding Protein 4 (IGFBP-4) were 22 times more likely to produce tiny babies than women who maintained normal IGFBP-4 levels.

CONCLUSION: Gruslin suggests that Insulin Growth Factor Binding Protein 4 inhibits an essential placental growth hormone, IGF-II, resulting in a malnourished and underdeveloped placenta and fetus. High levels of IGFBP-4 can therefore lead to serious health complications in pregnancy, such as stillbirths and precariously underweight babies.

IMPLICATION: The researchers intend to refine the IGFBP-4 blood test in order to make it available to the public. Gruslin also hopes to develop a method by which to target the IGFBP-4 protein, which could effectively reduce the occurrences of stillbirths, fetal growth restriction, and adulthood chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypo-tension that accompany this latter condition.

SOURCE: The full study, "Significance of IGFBP-4 in the development of fetal growth restriction," is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Madeleine Kruhly writes and produces for The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

'Stop Telling Women to Smile'

An artist's campaign to end sexual harassment on the streets of NYC.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In