"With further study", Dr. Stevenson suggests, "we might be able to identify specific genes and gene pathways that could reveal some of the underlying causes of preterm birth, and suggest potential targets for interventions to prevent it". Another set of women was tested using this model, which went on to accurately identified four out of five women who experienced premature births.
Counting weeks from one's last period is the age-old method but it depends on memory and is often imprecise.
The leading cause of complications and neonatal death is preterm birth, which affects approximately 15 million births a year worldwide.
Recent research from the United States has shown that the number of premature births climbed to 9.93pc in 2017, up from 9.86 in 2016, making it the third consecutive annual increase after steady declines over the previous seven years.
Until now, there were just a few tests which predict the premature birth available but they all tended to work on women which had a high risk and showed accurate only 20% accurate results, as per the study.
Preterm births occur in approximately 12 percent of all live births in the USA - and it is the cause of about 70 percent of newborn deaths, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The same non-invasive test can be used in general to predict the date of delivery with the same reliability as ultrasound.
"More research is needed to confirm the findings before it can be considered in clinical settings".
Describing the blood test, the research team's principal investigator, David Stevenson, likened it to "eavesdropping on a conversation" between the mother, the foetus and the placenta, without disturbing the pregnancy.
When will a pregnant woman actually deliver her baby?
In the study of prematurity, they analyzed the RNA of seven key genes in a group of pregnant American women - and were able to identify six of eight pre-term births and 25 out of 26 full-term births.
Although science has developed detailed cellular and molecular portraits of both fetal and placental development, there still aren't "molecular tests that reliably predict gestational age for individual pregnancies".
The researchers report that their blood test demonstrated higher mean accuracy than methods based on mass spectroscopic measurements of the ratio of two proteins in blood [sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 4 (IBP4)], and also exhibited higher predictive value than ultrosonographic measurements of cervical length, or fetal fFN evaluation.
One simple blood test, also developed by Quake's team, can tell newly pregnant women if they are carrying a child with Down syndrome.