A massive DNA analysis of pregnant women has identified six gene regions that influence the length of pregnancy and the timing of birth. The findings, published online on September 6, 2016 in the New England Journal of Medicine, may lead to new ways to prevent preterm birth and its consequences -- the leading cause of death among children under age 5 worldwide. The NEJM article is titled “Genetic Associations with Gestational Duration and Spontaneous Preterm Birth.” The study, coordinated by Louis Muglia, MD, PhD, Co-Director of the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children's and principal investigator of the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center--Ohio Collaborative, together with Bo Jacobsson, MD, PhD, of Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, involved data from more than 50,000 women. The globe-spanning team included first author Ge Zhang, MD, PhD, of the Division of Human Genetics at Cincinnati Children's, along with researchers from Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Yale University, the University of Iowa, and the genetic testing company 23andMe. Vital funding was provided by the March of Dimes, the National Institutes of Health, The Research Council of Norway, Swedish Research Council and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center--Ohio Collaborative, launched in 2013, is responsible for the gene identification component of the network of five Prematurity Research Centers nationwide established by the March of Dimes to identify the unknown causes of preterm birth.
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