Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine whether elevated midtrimester serum placental alkaline phosphatase levels are predictive of preterm delivery.
Study design: By use of banked serum specimens from a sample of women who had received maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein screening, placental alkaline phosphatase values for multiples of the median were obtained from 270 mothers who had experienced a preterm delivery and from 1598 mothers of term, appropriate-for-gestational-age infants. Specimens were analyzed for placental alkaline phosphatase by means of a monoclonal antibody enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Logistic regression was used to determine whether placental alkaline phosphatase was associated with preterm birth, while potential confounders were controlled for.
Results: Women with placental alkaline phosphatase levels > or = 2.0 multiples of the median were significantly more likely to be delivered of a preterm infant in the current pregnancy compared with women with levels < 2.0 multiples of the median (odds ratio 2.9, 95% confidence interval 2.1 to 3.9). The likelihood of preterm birth increased significantly with higher multiples of the median (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Women with elevated placental alkaline phosphatase levels are at increased risk for preterm delivery. Additional studies are needed to evaluate the clinical utility of placental alkaline phosphatase testing as a means of identifying mothers at risk for preterm birth.