A recent international study conducted with the support of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden has illuminated new information about the genetic factors underlying gestational duration and premature delivery.
The findings centered around how, prior to birth, a mother and her unborn child’s genes have mutually conflicting effects.
The study’s results now have the potential to enhance the development of drugs that induce delivery, as well as prevent preterm births.
“The results have given us more routes to understanding how labor is initiated, both at full term and in premature labor,” Jacobsson said.
Around the globe, preterm birth is the most frequent cause of immediate death among both newborns and kids up to the age of 5 years old. And the earlier a mother gives birth, the higher this risk grows.
Most childbirths occur during week 39 or 40 of gestation. However, preterm births refer to any delivery that occurs prior to the 37th week of gestation.
The study, led by Bo Jacobsson, included 90 researchers from an international network known as the Early Growth Genetics Consortium (EGG). As for participants, 279,043 individuals from over 20 international birth cohorts were included.
The researchers aimed to determine whether an individual’s gestational period was determined by the genes of the mother or the genes of the fetus.
So, they analyzed 136,833 cases that involved either both parents and their children or just mothers and their children. According to the team, this allowed them to distinguish the effects of mothers’ and children’s genomes more precisely.
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