Nav: Home

Length of pregnancy alters the child's DNA

March 02, 2020

Researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have together with an international team mapped the relationship between length of pregnancy and chemical DNA changes in more than 6,000 newborn babies. For each week's longer pregnancy, DNA methylation changes in thousands of genes were detected in the umbilical cord blood. The study is published in Genome Medicine.

Premature birth, that is before 37 consecutive weeks' of pregnancy, is common. Between 5 and 10% of all children in the world are born prematurely. Most children will develop and grow normally, but premature birth is also linked to respiratory and lung disease, eye problems and neurodevelopmental disorders. This is especially true for children who are born very or extremely prematurely. During the fetal period, epigenetic processes, i.e., chemical modification of the DNA, are important for controlling development and growth. One such epigenetic factor is DNA methylation, which in turn affects the degree of gene activation and how much of a particular protein is formed.

"Our new findings indicate that these DNA changes may influence the development of fetal organs," says Simon Kebede Merid, first author of the study and PhD student at Karolinska Institutet, Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset.

The majority of observed DNA methylations at birth tended not to persist into childhood, but in 17% the levels were completely stable from birth to adolescence. The levels that you are born with in certain genes thus track with age.

"Now we need to investigate whether the DNA changes are linked to the health problems of those born prematurely," says Professor Erik Melén, at the Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset.

Epigenetics is a hot research topic that links genes, the environment and health. This work was done within the international Pregnancy and Childhood Epigenetics (PACE) consortium. The work represents contributions from 26 studies. Professor Melén's group also contributed to the first PACE paper which showed that mother's smoking during pregnancy changes DNA in newborns and lead two PACE studies showing effects of air pollution. Links to diseases such as asthma, allergy, obesity and even aging have also been shown.

"We hope that our new findings will contribute valuable knowledge about fetal development, and in the long term new opportunities for better care of premature babies to avoid complications and adverse health effects," says Erik Melén.
-end-
The Swedish part of the study was funded by the European Research Council (TRIBAL, grant agreement 757919), the Swedish Research Council, the Heart Lung Foundation, the Stockholm Region (ALF, and for the BAMSE project), and SFO Epidemiology, Karolinska Institutet.

Karolinska Institutet

Related Dna Articles:

Zigzag DNA
How the cell organizes DNA into tightly packed chromosomes. Nature publication by Delft University of Technology and EMBL Heidelberg.
Scientists now know what DNA's chaperone looks like
Researchers have discovered the structure of the FACT protein -- a mysterious protein central to the functioning of DNA.
DNA is like everything else: it's not what you have, but how you use it
A new paradigm for reading out genetic information in DNA is described by Dr.
A new spin on DNA
For decades, researchers have chased ways to study biological machines.
From face to DNA: New method aims to improve match between DNA sample and face database
Predicting what someone's face looks like based on a DNA sample remains a hard nut to crack for science.
Self-healing DNA nanostructures
DNA assembled into nanostructures such as tubes and origami-inspired shapes could someday find applications ranging from DNA computers to nanomedicine.
DNA design that anyone can do
Researchers at MIT and Arizona State University have designed a computer program that allows users to translate any free-form drawing into a two-dimensional, nanoscale structure made of DNA.
DNA find
A Queensland University of Technology-led collaboration with University of Adelaide reveals that Australia's pint-sized banded hare-wallaby is the closest living relative of the giant short-faced kangaroos which roamed the continent for millions of years, but died out about 40,000 years ago.
DNA structure impacts rate and accuracy of DNA synthesis
DNA sequences with the potential to form unusual conformations, which are frequently associated with cancer and neurological diseases, can in fact slow down or speed up the DNA synthesis process and cause more or fewer sequencing errors.
Changes in mitochondrial DNA control how nuclear DNA mutations are expressed in cardiomyopathy
Differences in the DNA within the mitochondria, the energy-producing structures within cells, can determine the severity and progression of heart disease caused by a nuclear DNA mutation.
More DNA News and DNA Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.