Louis Muglia, MD, PhD and Eric Gibson, MD
Do genetic factors play any roles in birth timing? Dr. Muglia discusses recent evidence for several genomic variations that may play a part in preterm birth. Targeting these particular genes may allow us to prevent adverse pregnancy outcomes for mothers and neonates.
Preterm birth occurs in approximately 10% of pregnancies, is a leading cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality, and has adverse long-term consequences for the health of the child. Despite recent advances in perinatal medicine, we have not been successful at making significant improvement in the rates of preterm birth. In fact, in some places around country and the world, these rates are actually rising. Dr. Muglia, the director of the Cincinnati Children’s Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth, has done significant work in identifying potential genomic etiologies for preterm birth. Using a variety of techniques and population studies, Dr. Muglia’s work has shown that 30-40% of variation in birth timing may be due to genetic factors within the mother. Over 40 separate genes have to date been identified, allowing us to better define the genetic architecture of human pregnancy and to begin thinking about targeted pharmacotherapies towards the prevention of preterm birth.