Using technology to offer better care for expectant mothers and premature
infants

TORONTO, Dec. 14 /CNW/ - Echo: Improving Women's Health in Ontario, an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term-Care, is undertaking a study to evaluate the benefits of fetal fibronectin testing in Ontario hospitals to predict premature delivery in expectant mothers experiencing preterm labour.

"The fetal fibronectin test is part of Ontario's three-year strategy to provide the highest possible level of care for expectant mothers and newborn babies," said Pat Campbell, CEO of Echo. "The primary goal is to ensure the right kind of care in the right type of setting for both women and newborns. Echo has been asked by the Ministry to conduct this evaluation to ensure that the fetal fibronectin test is helping Ontario achieve that."

The fetal fibronectin test involves a simple cervical swab of a pregnant woman experiencing symptoms of preterm labour. If the test comes back positive for the fetal fibronectin protein, there is a high likelihood that the woman will deliver her baby prematurely. Arrangements can then be made, if necessary, to transfer her to the proper facility (secondary or tertiary care centre) depending on the gestational age of her fetus.

If the test comes back negative for the protein, it is highly unlikely that the preterm labour symptoms will result in early delivery. The woman can remain where she is and may even be discharged, thereby avoiding unnecessary, inconvenient and expensive transfers for women whose pregnancies are likely to continue. This means far less stress on the pregnant woman and her fetus and also keeps beds in secondary and tertiary care centres free for the women who do need them.

The quantitative and qualitative evaluation being undertaken by Echo will review factors such as changes in the rates of: admission to hospital and high-risk transfers for women with symptoms of preterm labour, as well as discharge from hospital of women with preterm labour symptoms who do not stay to deliver their baby.

"When you're dealing with potential premature delivery, information is like gold," said Campbell. "The more a doctor can know about when a woman will deliver her baby, the better care he or she can provide. Our evaluation will help us ensure that the fetal fibronectin test is giving doctors the information they need to direct the proper level of care to women in preterm labour."

About Echo - Echo's mandate is to be the focal point and catalyst for women's health at the provincial level. Echo promotes equity and improved health for women by working in collaborative partnerships with the health system, communities, researchers and policy-makers.

SOURCE ECHO

For further information: For further information: Julie McFayden, Public Affairs and Community Engagement Officer, (416) 597-9687 ext. 232, jmcfayden@echo-ontario.ca or John Ecker, Director, Public Affairs and Community Engagement, (416) 597-9687 ext. 223, jecker@echo-ontario.ca

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