Perspectives on Prematurity – We Can Do Better

Perspectives on Prematurity – We Can Do Better

By: Gregory C. Critchfield, MD, MS – Chairman, President and CEO

I joined Sera Prognostics as a board member in August of 2010. As my understanding of premature birth deepened, it was clear to me that we could do much better. The two best predictors for identifying women at risk for delivering their babies prematurely can only detect about 15% of women who need attention. Clearly, we are not detecting enough women at risk. If we could detect more of these women, earlier proactive intervention has the potential to make a difference in the health of their babies.

I became CEO of Sera Prognostics in 2011, because I wanted to make a difference.

The U.S has a very high preterm birth rate—approximately 1 in 9 babies are born prematurely. With an early accurate predictor of prematurity risk, we could do much better.

Our goal is to make a significant dent in reducing complications of prematurity. We want to give these babies a chance to be born healthier and the chance to go home sooner with Mom, rather than needing extra care both short-term in the neonatal intensive care unit, and long-term with developmental delays and disabilities associated with prematurity.

The problem of prematurity mounts every year. Every year in the US, there are nearly 4 million pregnancies. Every year, there are more than 450,000 premature babies born. This is every year! It is a growing societal problem; the costs to treat its short- and long-term complications continue to escalate. We need to do something different than continuing with the status quo.

Soon, with proteomic technology, we will have hope of making a difference.

Our strategy is simple:

  • Identify women who are truly at risk early in pregnancy.
  • Develop interventions earlier enough to make a difference in all women identified to be at higher risk for premature births.
  • Help these at-risk babies stay in utero longer and develop better, so that they are born with less severe complications if they are preterm.
  • Hopefully, getting more of these at-risk babies to full term—39-41 weeks.

Our focus is on the health of the baby. We must do a better job with premature birth.