Mutation of the gene dubbed the “guardian angel” for its ability to protect the body from genetic instability leads to cellular changes responsible for triggering premature birth, according to a study appearing in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. “The research by scientists in the Division of Reproductive Sciences, part of the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, sheds new light on the still poorly understood genetic and physiological reasons for preterm births. The findings could help lead to the development of new strategies for treating and preventing prematurity, according to Sudhansu K. Dey, Ph.D., director of Reproductive Sciences at Cincinnati Children's and the study's senior investigator.
'Preterm birth and prematurity are problems that pose huge long-term social and economic liabilities, and there is an urgent need for research with new approaches to combat this public health concern,' Dr. Dey said. Premature birth is responsible for 30 percent of all neonatal deaths, is a significant cause of long-term disability, and costs $26 billion a year in the United States, according to estimates from the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine.”