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Premature Birth Could Have Genetic Component


Active Member
Sep 10, 2004
A woman has a higher risk of delivering a premature baby if a relative has also given birth too early, and there may be a way to determine risk by analyzing genes, researchers said on Monday.

Premature birth is "the No. 1 problem in obstetrics today and the incidence continues to grow," said Dr. Kenneth Ward, chairman of the department of obstetrics-gynecology at the University of Hawaii School of Medicine and lead author of a study using genetic databases compiled by Utah's Mormon population.

"There is an underappreciated genetic component to the problem," he said at a meeting here of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "As we save more and more premature babies of the last generation, they are having babies of their own."

The rate of premature birth increased 29 percent between 1981 and 2002, and today one in eight babies born in the United States arrives too soon, according to the March of Dimes.

These babies can face weeks or even months in the neonatal intensive care unit and have an increased risk of death and serious medical complications.