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Mobile Phone App Determines Risk of Preterm Birth

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 09 Mar 2020
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Image: The QUiPP v2 app can calculate pre-term birth risk (Photo courtesy of GeneticApps)
Image: The QUiPP v2 app can calculate pre-term birth risk (Photo courtesy of GeneticApps)
A user-friendly mobile phone application will allow doctors to quickly calculate a woman's individual risk of preterm birth, claims a new study.

Developed by researchers at King’s College London (KCL; United Kingdom), QUiPP v2 calculates spontaneous preterm birth (sPTB) risk based on a woman's individual risk factors, such as previous preterm birth, late miscarriage, or symptoms, along with clinical test results that help to predict preterm birth, such as cervical length (CL), quantitative fetal fibronectin (qfFN) or both tests combined, and taking into account further risk factors, such as multiple pregnancy. The app then produces a simple individual percentage risk score.

To test the app, the researchers conducted a prospective secondary analysis of data of asymptomatic women at high risk of sPTB recruited in 13 UK preterm birth clinics. In all, 1,803 women (3,878 visits) were included in the training set, and 904 women (1,400 visits) in the validation set. The results revealed that QUiPP v2 showed high accuracy for the prediction of sPTB at < 30, < 34 and < 37 weeks' gestation, and within one, two, and four weeks of testing. The study was published in the March 2020 issue of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“We are delighted to be able to share the findings of our work, which shows that the QUiPP app is very reliable in predicting preterm birth in women at risk,” said lead author Jenny Carter, MD, of the KCL department of Women & Children's Health. “This should mean that women who need treatments are offered them appropriately, and also that doctors and women can be reassured when these treatments are not needed, which reduces the possibility of negative effects and unnecessary costs for the NHS.”

Preterm birth refers to the birth of a baby of less than 37 weeks gestational age, before the developing organs are mature enough to allow normal postnatal survival. The cause for preterm birth is in many situations elusive and unknown; many factors appear to be associated with the development of preterm birth, making the reduction of preterm birth a challenging proposition. Premature infants are at greater risk for short and long term complications, including disabilities and impediments in growth and mental development. Preterm birth is the major cause of neonatal mortality in developed countries.

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