Breakthrough in Preterm Birth Research in South Asia!

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Indian scientists in the Garbh-Ini program have, for the first time in South Asia, identified 19 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with premature birth. The study, published in the Lancet Regional Health-South East Asia journal, found that five of these SNPs are linked to an increased risk of early preterm birth (before 33 weeks) and can predict premature births. This is significant as preterm birth is a leading cause of neonatal deaths and complications globally. In India, about 13% of babies are born prematurely, accounting for 23.4% of preterm births worldwide.

Prof Arindam Maitra from the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG) in Kalyani, West Bengal, one of the lead investigators of the study, emphasized the importance of the study for public health, especially in India and Southeast Asia. The study conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on spontaneous preterm birth on 6,211 women from Haryana, revealing significant findings.

The study also found that some of the SNPs were associated with the risk of preterm delivery in European women as well. These SNPs regulate important biological processes such as inflammation, apoptosis, cervical ripening, and innate immunity. The study concluded that maternal and foetal genomic factors influence the risk of preterm birth, with a genetic predisposition to spontaneous preterm birth being a major factor.

The study was approved by the institutional review boards and ethics committees of Gurugram Civil Hospital, the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, and the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics. This research has the potential to improve the monitoring and prediction of preterm births, leading to better maternal and neonatal outcomes.

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