Scientists Develop New Method For Determining If A Baby Was Born Prematurely With Just A Drop Of Blood

By Diana Samson, Parent Herald January 26, 06:15 am

Researchers have developed a new method in which doctors will be able to determine whether a child is just small or because he was born prematurely. A team from the University of Iowa claims that the metabolic profile from routine newborn screenings can help medical facilities estimate the infant's gestational age.

"It's important to know whether a baby is small because it is simply small in size but born on time or is small because it was born early," Kelli Ryckman, assistant professor at the College of Public Health in University of Iowa, said. "It helps determine how doctors should move forward with that baby and what kinds of health issues they should watch for."

The study analyzed more or less 300,000 records from Iowa's neonatal newborn-screening program for five years. Asian Age explained that newborn screening is required for every infant born in the US. This allows doctors and parents to detect diseases that if caught early, can be treated. 

In low-income areas, preterm babies (those born before reaching 37th week of pregnancy) die because of lack of proper care, including basics like warmth and breastfeeding support, according to NDTV. Premature infants are sometimes not provided with appropriate facility for infections or breathing difficulties. Preterm birth is now the leading cause of death in children under five years old, according to NDTV

Every year, the World Health Organization estimates that an average of 15 million babies are born preterm all over the world. Putting that into perspective, 1 out of 10 babies will be born premature. Unfortunately, 60 percent of the total number of premature babies are born from the sub-Saharan African and South Asia. 

The researchers from the University of Iowa claims that this new method can be adopted in developing countries to get a better look at the rates of preterm births in a given area. The data will then be used to target at-risk communities for intervention and prevention programs. 


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