Chapter

Preterm birth

Siobhan M. Dolan

in Human Genome Epidemiology, 2nd Edition

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780195398441
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199776023 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195398441.003.0018
 							Preterm birth

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Preterm birth (PTB) is a perplexing clinical condition and major public health challenge. In 2006, 12.8% of all births in the United States were preterm, defined as occurring before 37 completed weeks of gestation. Preterm birth is the second leading cause of infant mortality and the leading cause of infant mortality among black infants in the United States, as well as the major contributor to worldwide infant mortality and morbidity. Despite the significant public health burden of PTB, there are few effective strategies to reliably predict or prevent PTB. The etiology of this common complex condition remains elusive. Efforts to identify environmental contributors suggest that smoking, stress, black race, nutritional deficits, and infection contribute to, but do not explain, the majority of PTBs. Therefore, the discovery of predisposing genetic variants and relevant gene-environment interactions will likely be of great value in unraveling the mystery of PTB, by identifying women at risk and setting the stage for research and enhanced clinical and public health prevention strategies. This chapter discusses gene-disease associations PTBs.

Keywords: genetic variants; genetic variations; human disease; genome-wide studies; preterm birth

Chapter.  5481 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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