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Jessica Ramella-Roman of Florida International University (FIU) received a patent for an optical technology designed to identify preterm labor. The patent is the culmination of years of research into polarized light and its utility in the study of tissue.
Determinations of preterm labor typically use an ultrasound to measure cervical length to assess preterm risk. The new technology instead looks at the collagen fibers that compose 70% of the cervix. Collagen fibers are birefringent and are aligned around the cervical os, which is the orifice providing access to the uterus. During birth, the cervix undergoes a process that changes it from a rather rigid closed structure to a more pliant one to provide safe passage of the fetus.