A diagnostic test being developed by the University’s Robinson Institute will identify couples at high risk of pregnancy problems, helping to alleviate complications which occur in 20% of first pregnancies.
Lead researcher Professor Claire Roberts says couples planning to become pregnant, or those less than 12 weeks pregnant, are needed for the study to help researchers understand why some women develop complications in pregnancy and not others.
“The most common difficulties are miscarriage, preeclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy) and pre-term births,” Professor Roberts says.
“All of these can threaten the life of both mother and baby. Pre-term births alone can cost the healthcare system up to $5000 a day for neonatal intensive care and if a baby is born three months early it is a huge cost to the community, not to mention the parents’ emotional wellbeing.”
Couples involved in the study will undergo a number of blood tests checking their folate, vitamin B and D levels, hormonal levels and immune system. Researchers will also examine any genes associated with blood clotting, which are known to cause pregnancy complications.
The time commitment for the study will be limited to two visits at most – for blood tests and to undertake a medical and lifestyle questionnaire.
“By learning more about risk factors we can help prevent and treat these problems for future pregnant women and their babies,” Professor Roberts says. “We can also save the community millions of dollars in healthcare costs.”
The study, called Predicting Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes (PAPO), is linked to an international obstetrics program SCOPE (SCreening fOr Pregnancy Endpoints), which aims to recruit 10,000 patients globally to build a pregnancy biobank.
Professor Claire Roberts is a Senior Research Fellow within the University’s Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Scientific Director of the SA SCOPE Study.
For more information about taking part in the study, please contact Dr Denise Furness from the Robinson Institute on (08) 8313 1433 or (08) 8303 4086.