Paternal genes responsible for reoccurring 'prolonged pregnancies', claims Danish researchers

March 3, 2003

Brussels, 28 Feb 2003

Paternal genes can affect timing of birth and contribute to the risk of reoccurring 'prolonged pregnancies', suggests a recent study by Danish scientists.

Annette Wind Olesen, a researcher at the Aarhus University in Denmark studied the cases of some 28,000 women who gave birth between 1980 and 1994. She assessed the recurrence risk of prolonged pregnancy considering factors such as changes in partners and changes in social environment.

'Women had a reduced risk of recurrent post-term delivery if they changed partner between pregnancies. We believe that this is a new observation. This result suggests that the timing of birth may, in part, be determined by paternal genes,' commented Ms Olesen.

Indeed, the results of the study reveal that the risk of having a second prolonged pregnancy is nearly 20 per cent higher for women who stay with the same partner. For women whose first pregnancy lasted more than 44 weeks, the risk rose to 30 per cent. In contrast, the risk dropped to 15.4 per cent for women who changed partners between pregnancies.

However, 'a change in municipality and social status had no impact on the risk of recurrence of prolonged pregnancy,' claimed Ms Olesen.

While the study underlines a strong link between parental genes and late births, nothing is currently known about which paternal gene is responsible.

According to the study published in the British medical journal, 'prolonged' pregnancies last for 294 days or more and occur in approximately 5 per cent of all births. Little is know about them, but it is believed that, late pregnancies can lead to complications at birth.

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CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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