Preterm Birth: Is Your Placenta Toxic?
A new study in the American Journal of Pathology is the first to demonstrate that accelerated placental “aging” is behind some cases of preterm labor/birth. Four percent of pregnancies end in preterm birth, and 40% of those are related to premature rupture of membranes. Researchers took fetal membranes and exposed them to cigarette smoke, finding that markers of cellular aging were notably increased. In premature membranes, they found that cigarette smoke exposure (extract) could age the premature membranes to look like the term membranes in the signals related to age or “senesence.” These signals are thought to underlie the determination of membrane rupture.
Given the role of oxidative stress in signaling placental aging and associated inflammatory signaling, controlling for known triggers of oxidative stress in pregnancy makes sense. We have related data that shows us the potential role for industrial chemicals such as pthalates, and I recommend to all reproductive age women to clean up their local environmental exposures.
Here is my new favorite guide, and a related blog post with recommendations! Because the data on antioxidants preventing preterm birth is sparse, use the power and intelligence of food to support your body’s defenses, with this body of literature to persuade you of the power of this “intervention.”
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