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Premature birth, caused by specific genetic mutations

Premature birth, caused by specific genetic mutations



Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh report that genetic mutations of the methylentetrahydrofolate enzyme and protein involved in the coagulation process called Factor V appear to be associated with blood clots and injury to the placenta and fetus, ScienceDaily reports.
This indicates a possible genetic predisposition to a condition that has real clinical consequences on uterine growth, preeclampsia and spontaneous preterm birth.
To conduct this study, the researchers analyzed the DNA of placental tissue and heart blood from 111 women and their children. The results showed that methylentetrahydrofolate enzyme and Factor V protein are strongly associated with inflammatory lesions regardless of the mother's race, smoking habits and lower genital tract infections, all of which can contribute to genetic mutations.
Women and children who had these mutations were 4.2 times more likely to have blood clots and wounds of placental tissue than those without these mutations.
More than 500,000 children are born prematurely each year in the world and the number of premature births has increased by more than 30% since 1981. The surviving children are affected for the whole life by predisposition to cerebral palsy, mental retardation, chronic lung disease and loss of vision and hearing as well as other developmental problems.
Alina Sica
Editor
February 1, 2008