Premature birth complicates 6-10% of births, is associated
with 70% of neonatal mortality, and is commonly associated with
cerebral palsy and other morbidity with substantial long-term
consequences. In the last 30 years there has been no change in
the incidence of premature birth. A major difficulty has been the
lack of effective methods of predicting those women destined to
deliver preterm. Even when a woman presents in clinical preterm
labour she has a less than 50% chance of preterm delivery. Our
research is aimed at developing a more effective method of
predicting preterm delivery long before the onset of preterm
labour, which in the future may allow the initiation of therapy
earlier in the process than is currently possible.
This project will provide proof-of-concept that a computer
program can be developed to predict a pregnant woman's risk of
preterm birth. There is a large market (4M US and 8M Europe),
there are no competing technologies. This is a unique
collabortion between Biomedical Engineering and an Australian
center with an international reputation in Preterm Birth.
It is clear that combines the results of multiple analytes and
ultrasounds, using equations that describe their behaviour, will
be more effective than current methods for predicting which women
will deliver prematurely.
To this end the following specific aims or milestones will be
- Pilot studies on four hundred subjects have allowed the
development of equations describing 12 variables, a further 350
subjects will be recruited, the equations will be further
refined with this later data set.
- A computer program is developing which combines the data on
the 400 subjects to optimise the prediction of time of
- The performance of the computerised system will be compared
to current clinical predictors.
- A further 350 subjects will be recruited and the
performance of the computer program will be tested on this
second independent cohort.
- 2009-2011, ARC-Linkage,
Estimating the risk of preterm birth using blood tests,
David Smith, Roger Smith and Xiaobin Shen, $390, 000.
- 2005-2007, NHMRC developmental,
Computer program to predict premature birth,
Roger Smith and David Smith, $388,000.