GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- When the protective, balloon-like membranes surrounding the fetus rupture weeks before the official due date, the fetus is threatened. Its lungs may be too immature to sustain life after birth, but staying in the womb puts it and its mother at risk of infection.
Results from a new University of Florida study may help physicians determine whether an immediate delivery is the best course of action for the 130,000 women in the United States whose pregnancies are complicated by preterm premature rupture of the membranes each year. Such ruptures, which at times appear to be triggered by infection, are linked to at least one-third of preterm births.
The research findings, to be presented Saturday (2/5) at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's national meeting in Miami, show that a test manufactured by Abbott Laboratories accurately determines lung development from vaginally collected amniotic fluid.
The vaginal collection method prevents the need for collecting the fluid via amniocentesis, a procedure in which a needle is inserted through the abdominal wall into the uterus. Besides costing nearly four times as much as the vaginal method, an amniocentesis carries a small risk of infection. It also is a more complicated procedure in patients with ruptured membranes; because there is less fluid than normal inside the uterus, the target for the needle is smaller -- increasing somewhat the risk of fetal injury.
The UF study evaluated the TDx/TDxFLx Fetal Lung Maturity II test, which measures the level of phospholipids, a type of fatty acid that increases as the lungs mature.
While fetal lung maturity tests have been available for more than 20 years, until now little research has been conducted to validate the use of this specific test on vaginally collected amniotic fluid.
"This specific test has been used for more than five years, but there has been some ongoing concern that it might not be reliable when u
Contact: Jennifer Guyan
University of Florida