5:49 a.m. Tuesday June 14, 2011
The placenta plays a central role in the successful completion of pregnancy.
Proper placental growth and function is i
mportant for normal growth and development of your baby.
Healthy placental function is also needed to maintain the pregnancy until the right time for birth.
Labour– How does It Start?
We do not fully understand how labour is started in humans but we do know that the placenta plays a key role in signalling the uterus (womb) to start contracting and go on to established labour.
We know that certain biochemical pathways are switched on and the “switches” are genes.
Many factors are now known to affect the way genes work and there is a new science about this called “epigenetics”.
Epigenetics is a term given to chemical changes that occur in DNA molecules without changing the genetic code.
These changes are triggered by factors in the environment and have the effect of regulating the activity of particular genes in the same way a dimmer switch regulates the intensity of a light.
Successful pregnancy requires the precisely coordinated modulation of gene expression in pregnancy tissues including the womb and the placenta, and it is likely that epigenetic regulation of gene expression plays a key role.
This project aims to understand the role of epigenetic regulation during pregnancy and as the birth process begins.
It is designed to provide the basis for new methods of diagnosis and perhaps for novel interventions targeting epigenetic states which lead to problems such as premature labour.
If you were not wishing to keep the placenta after the birth of your baby, we would like you to consider donating your placenta for this research project. Please ask for a Participant Information Sheet when you come into National Women’s Health, Auckland City Hospital.
This study has received ethical approval from the Northern X Regional Ethics Committee (NTX/10/07/062).
Funding for the study comes from the National Research Centre for Growth and Development.
If you would like further information:
Dr Anna Ponnampalam
(373 7599 ext. 82115),
Professor Peter Stone
(373 7599 ext. 89480 or 89493).