Study discovers cause of many preterm births

May 13, 2014

A new study by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston is the first to show that premature aging of the placenta due to oxidative stress is the cause of many preterm births. The study appears today in the American Journal of Pathology.

Researchers took fetal membranes, exposed them to oxidative stress in a lab setting (specifically cigarette smoke extract) and examined whether it caused rapid aging of the placental tissue. It did.

Oxidative stress factors include environmental toxins and pollution and are an inevitable component of normal living. However, other factors such as smoking and drinking, high body mass index, poor nutrition and infection could be avoided.

Antioxidants in the body control any damage caused by oxidative stress. But when oxidative stress becomes overwhelming, it can trigger premature placental aging, which can result in .

According to the researchers, antioxidant supplements during pregnancy have failed to reduce preterm births because the mechanisms of oxidative damage are still unclear.

"This is the first study to look at and prove that induces senescence, or aging, in human fetal cells," said Dr. Ramkumar Menon, an assistant professor in the UTMB Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and lead researcher on the study. "With more than 15 million pregnancies worldwide ending in preterm births, we can now move forward in discovering how this information may lead to better intervention strategies to reduce the risk of preterm birth."

Previous studies suggested that infection is the major cause of preterm premature rupture of the membranes (pPROM, or breaking of the water bag during pregnancy), for which antibiotics are standard intervention.

However, UTMB researchers discovered that interventions such as antibiotics and antioxidants have not been successful in preventing preterm deliveries. This study provides evidence that there are other factors out there that the medical community should look for when that are causing spontaneous births, said Menon.

Explore further: Bacteria linked to water breaking prematurely during pregnancy

More information: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajpath.2014.02.011

Related Stories

Bacteria linked to water breaking prematurely during pregnancy

January 8, 2014
A high presence of bacteria at the site where fetal membranes rupture may be the key to understanding why some pregnant women experience their "water breaking" prematurely, researchers at Duke Medicine report.

Study finds preterm labor diagnostic markers not universal, diagnosis and interventions should not be generalized

February 10, 2012
In a study to be presented today at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in Dallas, Texas, researchers will report findings that indicate that preterm birth interventions should ...

Study associates gene with cerebral palsy and death in very preterm babies

February 3, 2014
In a study to be presented on Feb. 6 at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in New Orleans, researchers will report that a variant in SERPINE1, a gene involved in inflammation ...

Study finds residence in US a risk factor for preterm birth

February 9, 2012
In a study to be presented today at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in Dallas, Texas, researchers will report findings that indicate that duration of stay in the United States ...

Understanding the mystery of preterm birth

November 12, 2013
Researchers at the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute say there is still a lack of knowledge about the causes of preterm birth and what can be done to prevent it.

Preterm infants more likely to have elevated insulin levels in early childhood

February 11, 2014
Researchers have found that preterm infants are more likely to have elevated insulin levels at birth and in early childhood compared to full-term infants, findings that provide additional evidence that preterm birth may be ...

Recommended for you

Negative birth outcomes linked to air pollution exposure early in pregnancy, study finds

July 27, 2017
Exposure to air pollution early in a pregnancy could increase risk for preterm birth and low birth weight, according to a study led by researchers at NYU School of Medicine, and published on July 27 in Environmental Health ...

Study shows a significant ongoing decline in sperm counts of Western men

July 25, 2017
In the first systematic review and meta-analysis of trends in sperm count, researchers from the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai ...

Women exposed to smoke while in womb more likely to miscarry

July 13, 2017
Women exposed to cigarette smoke while in their mothers' wombs are more likely to experience miscarriage as adults, according to new research from the University of Aberdeen.

Lack of a hormone in pregnant mice linked to preeclampsia

June 30, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers from Singapore, the Netherlands and Turkey has isolated a hormone in pregnant mice that appears to be associated with preeclampsia—a pregnancy-related condition characterized by ...

Aspirin reduces risk of pre-eclampsia in pregnant women

June 28, 2017
Taking a low-dose aspirin before bed can reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia, which can cause premature birth and, in extreme cases, maternal and foetal death.

The biology of uterine fluid: How it informs the fetus of mom's world

June 22, 2017
A developing fetus bathes in a mixture of cellular secretions and proteins unique to its mother's uterus. Before fertilization, the pH of uterine fluid helps create a conducive environment for sperm migration, and afterward, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.