Biochemical markers predictive of preterm delivery.

Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center 525 E. 68th St. J-130 New York New York 10021 USA.
Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology 02/1997; 5(2):158-64. DOI: 10.1155/S1064744997000240
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Preterm delivery is the leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality worldwide. Despite a great deal of research into this disease, we still do not understand its pathophysiology. Our treatments for this disease are only marginally effective. Biochemical markers were developed with the hope of giving us new tools to prevent preterm deliveries. Specifically the hope was that they could predict which patients were destined to have a preterm delivery. At the present time these markers perform only satisfactorily at predicting preterm labor. They are expensive and not convenient to use at present. Perhaps more importantly, though, these markers have given us insight into the complexities of preterm delivery. Preterm delivery can arise from many different etiologies. This will lead to research into new treatments as knowledge about preterm delivery is amassed. We know that any number of pathological processes may be involved in any given patient with preterm labor. Biochemical markers have the distinct advantage of being able to determine the specific pathophysiology in a given patient and may allow us to tailor therapy according to the specific problem. In the future it is likely that a careful search for specific pathophysiology will be the only way we can treat this disease effectively. For the present time the biochemical markers will be used only to predict preterm delivery. Ultrasound measurements of the cervix during the pregnancy are likely a faster and less expensive way to accomplish that goal.

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