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Could a test help prevent stillbirths?

Expecting a child is full of anticipation, excitement, and nerves, but as many Maryland families know, too often a pregnancy ends in heartbreak. One scientist in Australia believes there may be a way to prevent families from going through this pain.

According to the ABC News, the death of a baby in utero after 20 weeks, or stillbirth, happens once every 100 pregnancies. Researchers out of the Hunter Medical Research Institute in Australia has found that these deaths may be the cause of the placenta prematurely degrading. Professor Roger Smith and his team found that when the placenta ages before the birth, a baby is starved of the nutrients it needs to thrive. A deteriorating placenta may also prevent enough oxygen from flowing through the umbilical cord, killing the baby. When the placenta begins to disintegrate, an enzyme called aldehyde oxidase is released into the mother's bloodstream.

The researchers believe it may be possible to develop a test to detect increased levels of aldehyde oxidase, thus recognizing that there may be an issue with the placenta. Smith and his research team are hoping to work on this test in the coming years. If a diagnostic test can be developed, preventing stillborn babies could be possible, as women with higher enzyme levels could deliver their babies via emergency cesarean section. However, before 27 weeks of gestation, it would not be safe to remove a baby and additional medications would be given in hopes of delaying the effects of the aging placenta. Researchers are hopeful this could help to reduce the rate of stillborn babies, and some even believe that these findings could help delaying the effects of aging in other populations as well, leading to longer life.

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Michael H. Bereston, Inc.
138 Main Street, Suite 200
P.O. Box 2990
Annapolis, MD 21401

Maryland: 410-793-4554
Toll Free: 866-517-4037
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