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Study Sheds Light on Families Prone to Preterm Delivery

In Utah database, women with preterm labor more closely related than other women

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- An analysis of families with multiple preterm deliveries suggests that the tendency may be inherited, according to study results published in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. The Utah families with preterm deliveries were more closely related than families selected at random from a large genealogical database.

Kenneth Ward, M.D., of the University of Hawaii, and colleagues studied 28 probands who delivered at less than 36 weeks of gestation at the University of Utah Hospital. The women each had at least five first- or second-degree relatives with preterm delivery.

The researchers searched an elaborate genealogical database with more than 9,000 data sources in the public domain (records before 1929) for information on all four grandparents of each of the 28 probands, and compared that to randomly selected controls. The database documents the relationships between more than 17.5 million ancestors and 3.5 million descendants of about 10,000 people who moved to Utah in the mid-1800s.

The investigators found that the probands had a mean of 3.3 grandparents included in the database, and the coefficient of kinship for familial preterm delivery grandparents was more than 50 standard deviations higher than for the controls.

"This study confirms the familial nature of preterm delivery," the authors write. "On average, gravidae randomly selected from our population are 23rd-degree relatives, while these preterm delivery probands are eighth-degree relatives."

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