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New blood test developed to predict ectopic pregnancies

Pregnant women could soon be able to receive an early diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy, after scientists develop a new blood screening test

Posted: 29 October 2010
by Marina Nelson
three months pregnant woman
This test could help save your fertility.

Expectant mums experience an ectopic pregnancy could be diagnosed earlier and more accurately, suggests scientists who have developed a new blood test.

The new test, developed by researchers in the US, could also protect the future fertility of women going through an ectopic pregnancy, where the baby grows outside of the womb.

Currently, ectopic pregnancies are detected using an ultrasound; however sometimes the embryo is too small to see in the early stages of pregnancy meaning detection is not always possible.  Doctors, however continue to monitor mum and baby until the embryo is big enough to be seen on an ultrasound.

The research was carried out in Pennsylvania using 100 women in the first three months of an ectopic and an equal number with a normal pregnancy.

The study confirmed an ectopic pregnancy in 42% of cases.  Of these, the test was able to distinguish between an ectopic and a normal pregnancy with 99% accuracy.

"The new test would be most applicable for women early in pregnancy, when they can't see it on ultrasound.  It could also be used if ultrasound was unavailable," said Dr Rausch of the Centre for Human Reproduction at North Shore Long Island Hospital in New York.

Up to 11,000 women in the UK have an ectopic pregnancy each year and in very rare cases some women die.

“Earlier diagnosis means immediate treatment and the opportunity to try to protect future fertility,” said Dr Rausch.

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