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Genetic Variants Tied to Preterm Birth, Gestational Length

Four loci found to be significantly associated with gestational duration, three with preterm birth

premature infant

FRIDAY, Sept. 8, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Several genetic variants are associated with gestational duration and preterm birth, according to study published online Sept. 6 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Ge Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., from Cincinnati Children's Hospital, and colleagues performed a genome-wide association study using samples from 43,568 women of European ancestry to identify genetic variants associated with gestational duration and the risk of preterm birth. Genomic loci of significance were validated in an additional data set.

The researchers found that four loci (EBF1, EEFSEC, AGTR2, and WNT4) were significantly associated with gestational duration, with the first three also significantly associated with preterm birth. Two additional variants, ADCY5 and RAP2C, showed an association with gestational duration that was of suggestive significance in the discovery set and significant association in the replication sets.

"Previously established roles of these genes in uterine development, maternal nutrition, and vascular control support their mechanistic involvement," conclude the authors.

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