Indian scientists have developed a new technology that will help diagnose at a very early stage and at affordable cost abnormal pregnancies that can lead to miscarriages and stillbirths.
Such cases, called ectopic pregnancies, can be detected even before it can be spotted by an ultrasound machine, said scientists at the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW), a government organisation under the ministry of health and family welfare.
They say they have developed the technology, the first of its kind across the globe, after two decades of labour to help millions of women who suffer.
"Our technology is more accurate and cheaper than the present ultrasound machine. This will help women to know their pregnancy status in the fifth week after they conceive," T.G. Srivastava, who has developed the technology, told IANS.
A professor at the Reproductive Biomedicine Department of NIHFW, Srivastava claimed that technologies that were currently available could give a clear picture about the pregnancy only after the fifth week and at a much later timeframe in cases of ectopic pregnancies.
"Our technology will prove to be a boon for people suffering from ectopic pregnancies where fertilised eggs are found outside the uterus. It leads to miscarriages and stillbirths. An early diagnosis will ensure women do not suffer much."
In ectopic pregnancy, the foetus may get attached to fallopian tubes, abdomen or even the cervix area. As none of these areas have enough space, the mother suffers pain. When the foetus grows, it can even result in bursting of the organ, leading to major complications, the doctors explained.
It causes severe bleeding and in many cases endangers the mother's life. Most such pregnancies lead to stillbirth, they added.
"People pay at least Rs.7,000 for such tests but our technology will certainly be 10 times cheaper. Many people in rural India earn less than Rs.4,000 a month. How can they pay so much for a test?" Srivastava queried.
The new kit can survive relatively high temperatures of 37 degrees Celsius for a period of three months and continue to give best results. If kept at temperatures between 2-8 degrees Celsius, it can remain effective for use for over two years.
NIHFW director Deoki Nandan said the institute has transferred the technology to the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), a wing of the Ministry of Science and Technology. "It will now be the responsibility of NRDC to make it available on a large scale."
Somenath Ghosh, NRDC chairman and managing director, said: "Now we will consult both Indian and foreign companies to make it available for the masses. I am sure it will reduce the time and cost of pregnancy related diagnosis drastically."