A new simple blood test could help prevent stillbirth, according to Melbourne researchers.
Stillbirth claims three million lives globally every year and six losses are felt every day in Australia.
“It’s your worst nightmare. All of a sudden you’re just forced to live your worst nightmare. And no warning, nothing,” says Alex Tighe.
After a complication-free pregnancy in 2008, Alex’s son, Jack, was stillborn – and she has no explanation why.
“The day that I lost him I had been at work, I went to the gym at lunch – just doing the things that you normally do as a pregnant person,” said Alex.
“I think if there had been a test, because I had passed every other test…And if there was a test that could say ‘Alex, you just need to stop and give this a chance’. You know, maybe we could have gotten far enough along for him to survive.”
The Melbournian says mothers need “critical information”, so they have the best chance of delivering healthy babies.
Watch Alex Tighe share her story. Post continues after video.
Professor Susan Walker – who also helped Alex with a later pregnancy – is part of the team from University of Melbourne and Mercy Hospital for Women, that are determined to decrease stillbirth statistics.
“What we’re really trying to do with this blood test is see if we can find better ways of detecting the baby that will be small at full-term,” she says.
“So babies that are small, we know, have a four-fold increase in the chance of being stillborn, and if we could identify babies that are destined to be born small at term, then it raises the exciting possibility that if we knew about that in advance, we could monitor them more closely and maybe deliver them before stillbirth occurs.”
The pitfalls of how babies are measured.
Babies are already measured during their mother’s pregnancy but Professor Walker says the methods used have pitfalls.