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Gestation Length Influenced by Maternal, Paternal Factors

Heritable components from both parents may affect a child's gestational age

FRIDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Heritable factors related to both father and mother may influence the length of gestation, according to a study published in the April 1 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Rolv T. Lie, Ph.D., of the University of Bergen in Norway, and colleagues identified 77,452 pairs of male and female infants who were born at term and later became parents. The researchers linked the birth data for the parents to the birth records for their first child.

The investigators found that each additional week in the father's gestational age increased the gestational age of his offspring by an average of 0.58 days. Each additional week in the mother's gestational age increased the gestational age of her offspring by an average of 1.22 days. The researchers also found that gestational age was reduced by 0.65 days for each additional kilogram in the father's birth weight, possibly because more rapid fetal growth triggered delivery.

"An association between the father's and child's gestational age supports a role of the fetus and placenta in triggering delivery," the authors write. "Furthermore, the link between a higher weight at birth for the father and a shorter gestation for his offspring suggests an effect of fetal growth on the duration of pregnancy."

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