Yale scientists develop 'gas gauge' to prevent pregnancy loss
To combat the many fetal deaths that occur annually because the placenta is too small, researchers at Yale School of Medicine have developed a method to measure the volume of the placenta, which provides nourishment to the fetus. Limits in current technology keep doctors from being able to monitor the growth of the placenta, which, like the gas tank of a car, is the source of fuel for the fetus. The placenta can be so small that the fetus literally runs out of food and oxygen and dies, according to lead author Harvey J. Kliman, M.D., a research scientist in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. He and his colleagues published the results of their findings in the August 3 issue of the American Journal of Perinatology.
Fetal death, or intrauterine fetal demise (IUFD), affects 30,000 women each year in the United States. Until now, there has been no easy way to determine how much “gas” is left in the placenta’s tank.
Kliman decided to study this issue after noting that many late-term pregnancy losses were associated with very small placentas. He theorized that in much the same way that an obstetrician uses ultrasounds to follow the growth of the fetus, or a pediatrician weighs and measures children to ensure they are growing normally, the growth of the fetus’ placenta could be monitored.
When Kliman asked perinatologists (maternal fetal medicine specialists) why they did not look at the placenta when performing routine ultrasounds, the answer was always the same: The placenta is a curved structure and is too difficult to measure. If they had to measure the placental volume they would need a very expensive machine, specialized training and more time.
With the help of his father, Merwin Kliman, a mathematician and electrical engineer, Kliman developed an equation that used the maximal width, height and thickness of the placenta. Kliman and his team at Yale then validated the method by comparing the volume predicted by the Estimated Placenta Volume (EPV) equation taken just before delivery to the actual weight of the placenta at the time of delivery.
“In this study, we showed that the equation predicted the actual placental weight with an accuracy of up to 89 percent,” said Kliman. “The method works best during the second and early third trimesters, just when routine ultrasound screening is done on many women in the U.S.”
In addition to validating the equation, the team is also collecting EPV data from centers around the world to create the normative curves that doctors can use to determine if the placenta is normal, too small or even too big. “I hope that the EPV test becomes routine for pregnant women,” said Kliman.
Source: Yale University
- Autism risk spotted at birth in abnormal placentasThu, 25 Apr 2013, 13:37:55 EDT
- Study finds changes in fetal epigenetics throughout pregnancyWed, 14 Apr 2010, 15:45:57 EDT
- Yale researchers may have uncovered the mechanism by which progesterone prevents preterm birthFri, 5 Feb 2010, 0:37:22 EST
- USC research shows critical role of placenta in brain development Thu, 21 Apr 2011, 10:03:41 EDT
- Bad news for mosquitoes: Yale study may lead to better traps, repellentsWed, 3 Feb 2010, 13:36:04 EST
- Vital Signs: Childbirth: Technique Measures Placenta’s Volumefrom NY Times ScienceMon, 3 Aug 2009, 18:07:15 EDT
- Vital Signs: Childbirth: Technique Measures Placenta’s Volumefrom NY Times HealthMon, 3 Aug 2009, 15:21:04 EDT
- Scientists develop 'gas gauge' to prevent pregnancy lossfrom PhysorgMon, 3 Aug 2009, 5:28:16 EDT
- Yale scientists develop 'gas gauge' to prevent pregnancy lossfrom Science CentricSun, 2 Aug 2009, 18:49:07 EDT
- Scientists Develop 'Gas Gauge' For Placenta Aimed To Prevent Pregnancy Lossfrom Science DailySun, 2 Aug 2009, 17:21:11 EDT
- Yale scientists develop 'gas gauge' to prevent pregnancy lossfrom Science BlogSun, 2 Aug 2009, 16:42:17 EDT
- Yale scientists develop 'gas gauge' to prevent pregnancy lossfrom Science BlogSun, 2 Aug 2009, 15:56:12 EDT
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
No popular news yet
No popular news yet
- Stem cell transplant restores memory, learning in mice
- 2 landmark studies report on success of using image-guided brachytherapy to treat cervical cancer
- Calculating tsunami risk for the US East Coast
- Researchers discover mushrooms can provide as much vitamin D as supplements
- Cutting back on sleep harms blood vessel function and breathing control