A new medical test that determines whether pregnant women are at risk for premature labor has been approved by the FDA and is expected to become available for general use within six weeks.
The test costs about $100 and is intended for women who are already at least 5 1/2 months pregnant. The test, which analyzes an expectant mother’s saliva, was found to be 98 percent reliable in identifying women who are not at risk for early labor. One of the test’s shortcomings is that it is produces many “false positives.” Women whose tests come out positive are subjected to further examination, given that many of them will not go into pre-term labor as the test indicated.
Approximately 11 percent of all U.S. births are premature. Pre-term babies are more susceptible to cerebral palsy, blindness, lung problems, and mental retardation than are full-term babies.