Smart measuring technology means fewer premature births


Improved detection of the risk of premature birth – Swiss start-up Pregnolia has developed a special screening method that does just that. We added this outpatient benefit to our supplementary insurance at the start of 2022.

The risk of premature birth

Every year, some 6,000 babies in Switzerland are born too early, i.e. before the 37th week of pregnancy. With medical assistance, 'preemies' have a good chance of developing normally. But the real goal should be to prevent preterm births, and that means finding a reliable way of detecting the risks. However, we're still a long way from achieving that: "Detecting the risk of premature labour is one of the biggest unsolved problems in modern obstetrics," says Pregnolia's founder Sabrina Badir. She believes that the current methods are inadequate – and imprecise.

About Pregnolia

Pregnolia is an ETH Zurich spin-off. The start-up was founded in 2016, building on Ms Badir's Ph.D. thesis. The company is registered in Schlieren in the canton of Zurich, and now has 11 employees.


Measurement delivers precise, reliable data

Midwives and gynaecologists understand the importance of palpating the cervix (the neck of the womb), as a very soft cervix increases the risk of giving birth too early. However, this assessment is subjective and calls for a great deal of experience. The Pregnolia team has taken a fresh look at the traditional cervical examination and developed a slender probe that serves as a measuring device. It delivers more precise data on the state of the cervix. "We're now able to tell doctors what values are to be expected in a normal pregnancy. But they still have to assess the risk themselves," explains Ms Badir.

Full-speed development

The measuring system for use in gynaecology and obstetrics is certified and already being used successfully as a pregnancy screening test. In future, it is hoped that the device will not just support the diagnosis, but also provide an exact risk assessment. In cases where there's a risk of premature birth, early detection would allow every possible step to be taken to ensure a normal pregnancy. That's why Pregnolia is moving full steam ahead to upgrade its invention. The results of further studies should gain it approval for use in diagnosing preterm labour and enable the measuring device to be used by as many professionals as possible.

Benefit covered by supplementary insurance

Through SwissHealth Ventures, we invest in digital health start-ups whose new digital technologies move healthcare forward on a sustainable basis and thus deliver added value to our clients. We took part in a financing round for Pregnolia in May 2020 as we believe in the success of the innovative measuring procedure and are convinced it will be a great help to professionals and pregnant women. What's more, this method could help to reduce healthcare costs in the long term.

CSS added Pregnolia to its supplementary insurance as an outpatient benefit at the start of 2022. The Pregnolia website contains helpful information for pregnant women.