A smartphone app that accurately predicts if pregnant women are at risk of giving birth prematurely could save lives, the British inventors say.
QUiPP v2 helps doctors quickly calculate the likelihood of an early delivery on a scale of zero to 100.
This score is based on a number of clinical symptoms, the woman's childbirth history, and other biomarkers.
It ensures high-risk women who need special care receive it quickly, but also helps medics reassure women when their risk is low.
Hopes have been raised that it could slash the number of babies born early each year in the UK, while also saving the NHS money treating premature babies.
When babies are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, they are more likely to die, or have physical, developmental and emotional problems.
A smartphone app that works out if a pregnant woman is at risk of a premature birth could save lives, the British inventors say (stock)
In the UK, around 60,000 babies are born prematurely each year, a rate of around 7.5 per cent. Some 1,500 babies do not survive being born so early.
Premature birth can lead to long-lasting health problems for both mother and baby.
Researchers are looking for better ways to predict how likely a mother is to go into premature labour, so that they can get the right care at the right time.
Patient Safety Minister, Nadine Dorries said: 'The joy a newborn brings can be cruelly contrasted alongside the fear when a baby is born too soon.
'Being able to identify mothers at risk of a pre-term birth as early as possible can help clinicians to intervene sooner, improve safety and ultimately save lives.
'We want the NHS to be the safest place in the world to give birth and the harnessing of promising digital innovations such as this is another stepping stone on this shared journey.'
A team of researchers from the Department of Women & Children's Health, King's College London, have been creating the mobile app QUiPP for a number of years.
Guy's and St Thomas' Charity, the National Institute for Health Research and leading baby charity Tommy's have been supporting the research.
Already, an earlier version of QUiPP is being used by doctors to help treat patients. However, it has now been improved.
'QUiPP v2' calculates the risk based on a