Physicians can measure progesterone levels to detect baby's health

by Alice Stanton

Physicians can measure progesterone levels to detect baby's health

When you first find out you're pregnant, you may find yourself scheduling quite a few doctor's appointments. You're about to experience many changes happening to your body, and your healthcare provider just wants to make sure everything is occurring like it's supposed to by tracking your symptoms and performing some prenatal tests. One sign, in particular, that some women need to look out for is vaginal bleeding or pain. If this occurs, your physician can perform an ultrasound and check to see how high or low your progesterone levels are, which can indicate whether your baby is healthy.

Progesterone levels provide valuable information

Sometimes light spotting is normal, but may, in some cases, be a sign that something is wrong with the baby. A healthcare provider may use an ultrasound to see if the pregnancy is viable - meaning it will most likely result in a live birth. In addition, a new study published in the British Medical Journal stated that measuring levels of progesterone, which is a hormone that naturally occurs in the body, at this time may confirm an ultrasound result.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham examined the results of 26 studies, which included data from more than 9,400 pregnant women. They found that low levels of progesterone may indicate a non-viable pregnancy in those who experience bleeding and discomfort, especially when an ultrasound was inconclusive.

"This test is highly accurate when complemented by ultrasound and could be added to the existing algorithms for the evaluation of women with pain or bleeding in early pregnancy as it can accelerate diagnosis," the study's authors concluded.

There are always risks

Although it's a grave subject, there is always a chance that a pregnancy will not go to term. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development projects that almost 15 percent of women with confirmed pregnancies will have a miscarriage. This event occurs before the 20th week of pregnancy, and can be the result of a variety of factors. However, researchers are constantly trying to find ways to reduce this risk. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your healthcare provider.

What kind of prenatal tests did you have during pregnancy? Do you think they're a good diagnostic tool? Leave your answers in the comments section!