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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1997 Jul;177(1):8-12.

The preterm prediction study: patterns of cervicovaginal fetal fibronectin as predictors of spontaneous preterm delivery. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network.

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  • 1National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network, Bethesda, MD, USA.



Our purpose was to determine how various temporal patterns of fetal fibronectin positivity from 24 to 30 weeks predict subsequent fetal fibronectin test results and spontaneous preterm delivery.


A total of 2929 women had vaginal and cervical fetal fibronectin tests obtained at least once at 24, 26, 28, or 30 weeks, and 1870 women had tests performed at all four gestational ages. Fetal fibronectin values > or = 50 ng/ml were considered positive. Various patterns of positive and negative tests were evaluated for prediction of (1) whether the next fetal fibronectin test would be positive or negative and (2) the percent of women with a spontaneous preterm delivery > or = 4 weeks after the last fetal fibronectin test at < 30, < 32, < 35, and < 37 weeks' gestational age.


Women with previous negative test results had only a 3% chance of a subsequent positive test result; however, if the last test result was positive, 29% of the next tests were positive. Of the 1870 women with tests at 24, 26, 28, and 30 weeks, 89% had all negative results, 8.4% had one positive result, 1.8% had two positive results, and 0.8% had three or four positive results. The higher the percent of positive tests at 24 to 26 weeks, at 28 to 30 weeks, or at 24 to 30 weeks, the greater the risk of subsequent spontaneous preterm birth. As an example, the risk of spontaneous preterm birth at < 30 weeks for women with two negative fetal fibronectin test results at 24 and 26 weeks was 0.3% versus 16% for women with two positive results.


The presence of a positive cervical or vaginal fetal fibronectin test result predicts subsequent positive fetal fibronectin positivity and subsequent spontaneous preterm birth. The greater the percent of positive results, the higher is the risk of spontaneous preterm birth. After a positive test result, two negative results are required before the risk of spontaneous preterm birth returns to baseline.

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