Preterm rupturing of membranes is associated with premature birth, respiratory distress syndrome and infection in newborn babies. It is currently detected by an examination with specula to look for amniotic fluid pooling, a procedure many women find invasive.
A test using an absorbent pad is able to rule out membrane rupture with an accuracy of 98 per cent, research conducted at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust showed.
The pad was less good at showing that a positive test was due to membrane rupture, however, so a positive test would need confirmation by speculum examination.
Nonetheless, the pad could reduce the number of speculum examinations conducted for suspected ruptured membranes and lead to significant cost savings for the health service, the researchers said.
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