Study Finds Blood Serum Test for Pregnant Women to Be of Little Value


Screening of a pregnant woman’s blood serum for high levels of chorionic gonadotropin during the second trimester has little value in predicting complications of pregnancy, such as stillbirth, pre-eclampsia and low birth weight, according to researchers from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Northern California. Chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone produced by the fetal placenta and screening for it is a widely used tool for detecting Down’s syndrome and certain other chromosomal abnormalities. Dr. Edgar J. Schoen and his colleagues studied 33,493 mostly young pregnant women who underwent the testing from July 1995 through January 1997.

They report in today’s New England Journal of Medicine that the measurements were “of little clinical value in predicting the risk of complications and the outcome of pregnancy.”


Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II