Doctors always give soon-to-be moms a due date for their baby's birth, but why is that date hardly ever accurate?
Planning for the arrival of a baby is obviously stressful for a number of different reasons. If it's your first child then you will likely be worried about what to expect, and let's be honest if it's your third, fourth, or even fifth you will likely still have those worries. Money, or lack of it, may be an issue for many parents as another mouth to feed is well on the way. There are concerns about what to buy and what to stay away from, and trends in nutrition and general health are always changing. As magical a time as it is, there are a number of things to stress about.
Knowing the exact date that baby will arrive could be huge in helping to reduce some of these worries. All soon-to-be moms are given a due date by their doctor of course, but that date is to be taken with a grain of salt. In fact, as pointed out by Vox, due dates given by doctors are only correct 4% of the time.
That's a pretty shocking statistic, and it's so low because there is no real way of being able to figure out an exact due date. Doctors use one of two methods. The first is asking when a pregnant woman's last period was. That way of doing things obviously has a lot of problems and is likely to be inaccurate. The other method is via ultrasound which apparently becomes less accurate the further a woman is into her pregnancy.
There is some good news though. A paper published in Science written by researchers at Stanford University describes a potential new method using "genomics" that could give a much more accurate prediction of a baby's due date. The method is very experimental right now, but it simply requires taking a sample of the pregnant woman's blood and focusing on biomarkers called "cell-free RNA transcripts."
This research is exciting and groundbreaking for a number of reasons. Yes, giving moms a more precise idea of when they will give birth will make their lives easier, but it could also mean so much more than that. If it does become a widespread way of figuring out due dates then it will also help doctors figure out if mothers and babies are in any kind of danger, and also greatly help pregnant women in less developed countries.