There is one premature delivery per ten births and a minor number of women may give birth as early as after 32 weeks of pregnancy. This increases the risk that a child maybe handicapped and many very preterm babies do not survive. Researchers at the Imperial College in London say premature birth disables a baby not only because underdevelopment but also because the process, triggering premature delivery, influences the fetus directly. They are sure that prevention of premature birth can significantly lower the risk of having a handicapped baby.
Bacteria or an inflammation in the womb or the membrane enclosing a fetus can cause premature delivery in some women while other women would stay unaffected. Scientists aimed at the mechanisms involved in the process. They found that when womb cells detect bacteria they send a signal like domino effect to provoke delivery. If those signals can be blocked in midway, the process is possible to be stopped. The signals can be blocked using natural anti-inflammatory hormones or drugs. As of now, a series of lab tests have been made on human cells as well as on animals. Tests on humans are planned to be conducted in 2-3 years.
Professor Philip Bennett, lead researcher from the Clinical Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Imperial College London said he and his team put great hopes in this research. “We have now discovered how to block a key pathway which leads to premature birth. Although more research needs to be done, we believe this is a step forward in the development of treatments to prevent premature birth“, he concluded.
Source of the image: flickr.com/photos/ruiguerra.