Key proteins help prevent premature child births

child birth

A premature baby is an infant that is born before completing a minimum of 37 weeks of gestation period. Reducing the number of preterm child births or the overall prevention of premature deliveries has been a challenging proposition for science as the reason for the occurrence of preterm births and the factors associated with it however, had till date remained unknown and obscure in most of the cases.Stats indicate that each year more than half a million premature deliveries occur in the United States of America. Premature births are a matter of a serious concern to the country, which amounts to over 26 billion US dollars of annual expenses. Premature birth is the prominent cause of infant mortality. It has also been noted that those babies who survive the premature delivery generally go through serious health related issue during their lifetime. Records show that even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness as compared to their normally born counterparts. Researchers stress that the concluding weeks of pregnancy are particularly crucial for the baby's overall well-being as the complete development of many vital organs like the brain occurs in the last few weeks of the pregnancy.

A recent study whose findings were presented at the annual meet ‘The Pregnancy Meet’ held at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in San Francisco, has revealed the role played by three proteins namely XIAP, BID, and Bcl-2 in carrying out successful progesterone interventions and thus preventing the occurrence of preterm child births. The research has also shown that these proteins may also prove to be significant in instigating normal labor.

Progesterone is a steroid hormone that is produced in the ovary which prepares and maintains the uterus for pregnancy. This hormone is involved in the female menstrual cycle and plays a key role in the development of the fetus during pregnancy. A drop in the progesterone levels indicates the onset of labor.Findings of the study have strong implications that the proteins XIAP, BID, and Bcl-2 prevent premature childbirths by obstructing apoptosis, a process causing normal death of cells in the fetal membrane. Apoptosis is an orderly cell suicide mechanism that enables control of cell count by elimination of unwanted cells. Researchers found that fetal membranes that are naturally stronger and thicker have lower chances of rupturing prematurely leading to preterm births.

Focus of the research was to add to the underlying knowledge of the role played by progesterone in triggering the labor, what stirs up the labor process, and how does the rupturing of the fetal membranes occur.

Reference:
Progesterone Inhibits Basal Apoptosis In Fetal Membranes By Altering Expression Of Both Pro- And Anti-Apoptotic Proteins- A study led by Errol R. Norwitz, MD, PhD, Ob/Gyn-in-Chief at Tufts Medical Center and chairman of Obstetrics/Gynecology at Tufts University School of Medicine.

Disclaimer: This article is written by a non-medical professional.

Date: 
Friday, February 25, 2011
Author Name: