Premature birth gene…

MARCH OF DIMES…noteworthy news!

There is evidence of a gene that is related to the incidence of premature birth and it may be part of the evolutionary process of mankind (womankind).

“Premature birth gene

Scientists in the US and Finland say they have discovered a gene linked to premature birth. Investigators from Vanderbilt University (including a March of Dimes grantee), Washington University and the University of Helsinki report that variations in the gene for the follicle stimulating hormone receptor (FSHR) may increase a woman’s risk for delivering her baby prematurely.

The researchers believe there must have been evolutionary pressure to “adapt and shift the time of birth” to produce a smaller baby to ease delivery. A large head and a narrow pelvis are uniquely human traits. The report, published in PLoS Genetics, discusses evidence that gestation length has decreased throughout the evolution that leads to modern humans, and that human gestation is shorter than predicted compared to other primates.

To find genes that have changed to regulate birth timing, the researchers used comparative genomics to identify a set of “human accelerated genes” – genes that were most altered in humans compared to six other animals. They screened 150 of these accelerated genes in Finnish mothers and found that certain variations in the FSHR gene were more frequent in mothers who had experienced preterm birth. The same variations may also be associated with preterm births in African Americans.

Professor Louis Muglia, from the department of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University, is a co-author of this research and a March of Dimes grantee. Dr. Muglia said, “Ideally we’d like to predict which women are at greatest risk for having pre-term birth and be able to prevent it. That would really have an impact on infant mortality and the long-term complications of being born prematurely.” Here’s hoping future research reveals more soon.

Tags: follicle stimulating hormone receptor, FSHR, human gestation, premature birth, preterm birth

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