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fFN: An effective way to predict premature birth

Updated: 2023-02-23


What is premature birth?

Premature birth refers to the delivery of an infant between 28 weeks and 37 weeks of gestation. Premature infants that are born during this period account for 5 to 25 percent of total births.

Harm of premature birth

Premature birth can cause neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, necrotizing enterocolitis, cerebral palsy and other diseases in infants, and may also make mothers prone to anxiety and depression.

In addition, treatment of these diseases will also cause a great mental, emotional and economic burden to the whole family.

Since premature birth is so harmful, is there any scientific method to predict it? The answer is yes, through fetal fibronectin (fFN) testing, which is recommended during pregnancy.

As a unique glycoprotein that is produced during pregnancy, fFN is abundant in amniotic fluid and vaginal secretions. Due to its high correlation with premature labor and childbirth, it has become an effective way to predict whether the infant may be born prematurely.

When should fFN testing be done during pregnancy?

Pregnant women who meet one of the following conditions should undergo fFN screening:

1. Asymptomatic pregnant women at 22-30 weeks of pregnancy;

2. Pregnant women with symptoms of premature birth at 24-35 weeks of pregnancy;

3. Full-term pregnant women at 37-40 weeks of pregnancy (to judge the time of labor);

4. Pregnant women with high-risk factors for premature birth (after evaluation by obstetricians).

How to test fFN?

During a prenatal checkup, a doctor can take a secretion sample for fFN testing.

How to read the fFN results?

If the expectant mother's fFN test result is negative, the probability of premature birth within the next 7 days is <1 percent, and the probability of premature birth within 14 days is <5 percent.

In contrast, if the result is positive, please go to a professional medical institution for treatment. An obstetrician will do a more in-depth evaluation and handle it accordingly, prolonging the time before delivery.