Study Finds Family History Might Be Predictor Of Preterm Births
Researchers examined if predicting preterm birth may really be possible through a woman's past familial generations.
Every mother or mum-to-be would prefer having their baby’s birth planned out without any complication. But as all surprises go, preterm births are still a common occurrence and so far there is still no sure way to predict when it could happen.
That’s before a group of researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital found that the mum’s family background might be a predictor of preterm birth, their study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology on 11 November 2020 suggests.
Maternal Family History As A Factor Of Preterm Birth
Researchers considered women’s history of preterm births within the family across three generations. This includes the woman’s siblings, mother, grandmother, aunts and even great-aunts. They traced back on whether she herself was born preterm along with the rest of her relatives.
They included different scenarios for both multiparous women who have already given birth and nulliparous women who have not yet experienced childbirth.
Results showed that nulliparous women who were born preterm themselves had a higher risk of 1.75-fold to deliver a preterm birth. If her sister experienced a preterm birth, the risk was found to be 2.25-fold higher. Although they did not find any significant risks rising for when her grandmother or aunt had preterm births.
Multiparous women were found to have a 1.84-fold higher risk of delivering preterm if she was born preterm herself. But researchers found no significant link to her future deliveries with her family’s history of preterm birth.
“For nulliparous women, a history in the subject’s sister posed the greatest risk while for multiparous women with no prior preterm birth, overall family history was most informative,” researchers wrote.
In conclusion, researchers found that the highest possible risk of preterm birth was if the woman was born preterm herself.
Can Genetics Really Be Associated With Preterm Delivery?
Among the 23,816 women they studied, they found that preterm births cannot be fully linked to a woman’s genetics but instead her family history of any preterm births could add to the risk of early deliveries.
While families share DNA or genetic code, it was found that the same generation of the family is more likely to have similar social determinants, according to the Baylor College of Medicine. This was best demonstrated by their finding that a history of preterm birth in the pregnant woman or her sister was significantly associated with preterm birth, while a grandmother or aunt was not.
“We hope others will similarly be mindful of those subtle characteristics when looking at heritability and risk. We remain committed to finding the underlying true causal and driving factors. In the meantime, we provide for the first time some reliable risk estimates for first time moms based on their and their family history of preterm birth,” said Dr Kjersti Aagaard.