FRIDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Measuring progesterone levels in women with pain or bleeding during early pregnancy may help determine whether or not the pregnancy is viable, a new study says.
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A viable pregnancy means that there is a reasonable expectation that it will result in a live birth. Progesterone is a hormone that plays a key role in pregnancy.
About one-third of women experience vaginal bleeding or pain in early pregnancy. Ultrasound is used to determine pregnancy viability but this test can sometimes be inconclusive, the authors of the new study pointed out.
Along with Dutch colleagues, researchers at the University of Birmingham in England analyzed the findings of 26 studies involving more than 9,400 pregnant women. Seven of the studies included women with pain or bleeding and an inconclusive ultrasound result, and 19 studies included women with pain or bleeding and no ultrasound.
The analysis showed that a single low progesterone measurement for women with pain or bleeding in early pregnancy can differentiate between a viable and non-viable pregnancy when an ultrasound result was inconclusive.
The progesterone test was less accurate in predicting pregnancy viability in women with pain or bleeding who did not have an ultrasound, according to a university news release.
The study was published online Sept. 28 in BMJ.
Low progesterone levels may occur in some viable pregnancies and the progesterone test should be used with another test to increase its diagnostic accuracy, the researchers concluded.
Because the new study was an observational review of prior studies, it did not conclusively prove that the progesterone test is a viable option for expectant mothers.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: University of Birmingham, news release, Sept. 27, 2012