Computer programme to predict premature births under development
Sep 15, 2008 - 10:26:19 AM

Sydney, Sep 15 - Universities of Melbourne and Newcastle are jointly developing a computer programme to predict premature births.

About 17,000 premature births occur in Australia each year. It accounts for 70 percent of deaths among newborns and 50 percent cerebral palsy cases.

Roger Smith, professor, University of Newcastle, said identifying patterns in hormone levels could be the key to determining high risk pregnancies.

'The mechanisms that regulate the onset of human labour are still unknown, which makes it difficult to predict the event. However by detecting patterns in hormone levels, we could see when a pregnancy was going 'off course',' said Smith.

'This would identify women who may benefit from medical treatments currently available to prevent premature birth.'

David Smith of the University of Melbourne said: 'We are creating software and other computational methods to analyse pathology samples, determine patterns in blood hormone levels, and display the results.

'The programme will not only identify women at risk of giving birth early - it will also identify women not at risk, who could have their pregnancies managed by midwives in hospital or a home birth setting.'

Researchers hope to have the computer programme fully developed in three years.

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