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June 6, 1931


Author Affiliations

From the Section on Clinical Pathology and the Section on Obstetrics, the May Clinic.

JAMA. 1931;96(23):1933-1935. doi:10.1001/jama.1931.02720490013002

Laboratory tests for pregnancy are at least 3,000 years old, according to Aschheim and Zondek,1 who described an Egyptian papyrus reading: "A woman may determine if she is pregnant by taking some earth and barley in a vessel and adding to it a little of her urine day by day. Should the barley grow, the woman is pregnant, but if the grain does not grow, then she will not bear a child." In 1928, Aschheim and Zondek reported a more reliable and refined test for detecting pregnancy. This test was based on the fact that during pregnancy an enormous excess of anterior pituitary hormone is excreted in the urine, in addition to ovarian hormone, and that shortly after the puerperium this excess secretion stops. In testing more than a thousand specimens, they recorded an accuracy in diagnosis of 98.6 per cent. The test, as outlined by Aschheim,2 consisted