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Breakthrough in pre-term birth diagnosis through new device

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A new medical device has been created which improves the accuracy of pre-term birth (PTB) diagnosis.

The technology will be brought to market by EveryBaby, a UK-based company backed by South Korean investment, and help reduce the number of deaths and complications arising from PTB.

Its development follows research into Electrical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) carried out at the University of Sheffield. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates 15 million babies are born pre-term every year, with complications arising from PTB being the leading cause of death in infants under five years of age, and responsible for a million deaths in 2015. 

Long-term complications are severe, and many survivors face a lifetime of disability, including learning disabilities as well as visual and hearing impairments.

Current methods of assessing the likelihood of pre-term birth, such as transvaginal ultrasound, are expensive, and have limited accuracy.

The EveryBaby solution builds on current methods of assessing pre-term birth through providing a higher degree of accuracy in an affordable hand-held and portable device, giving it a huge potential for export to low-income countries who suffer the most from a lack of low-cost and scaleable solutions. 

The EveryBaby device provides an assessment of their risk of PTB as early as  the 18th and 20th week of pregnancy, which is a critical stage for clinicians in being able to address PTB and associated complications.

EveryBaby uses pioneering patented technology involving a novel method of impedance spectroscopy to pick up on changes to the composition and structure of cervical tissue as a mother nears birth. 

A study on 449 pregnant women demonstrated that EIS assessment does predict spontaneous PTB. 

“More than one in 10 babies are born too early and data has shown that preterm birth rates are increasing in many parts of the world,” says Dilly O’Anumba, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Sheffield and Consultant at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trusts.

“My team has spent over four years researching the potential for cervical Electrical Impedance Spectroscopy to improve the prediction of pre-term birth.

“This pioneering technique will enable health care professionals to better prevent and manage pre-term birth. It is not only more accurate than current methods but is significantly lower in cost making it more accessible, especially in low income communities where pre-term birth rates are particularly high.

“EveryBaby’s eventual commercialisation of this technology could help to save countless lives both in the UK and across the globe.”

Dabriel Choi, CEO, EveryBaby, says: “We are delighted to be working with the University of Sheffield to commercialise this exciting technology and bring a much needed innovation to the healthcare market. 

“Sheffield is a leader in health research and we’re proud to play a part in transforming research in the lab into a tangible product to improve patient outcomes.”

 

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