Placental development and pregnancy complications

New research will investigate the development and ageing of the placenta in the hope of detecting pregnancy complications earlier to help protect the lifelong health of mothers and babies.

Flinders University researcher Dr Anya Arthurs has received a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to look at the role of ‘circRNAs’ - a type of molecule involved in DNA instability and aging of the placenta, and the potential contribution of this to pregnancy complications.

“The incidence of pregnancy complications has been rising this century despite advances in maternal care,” Dr Arthurs says.

“Increased knowledge of human placental development will increase our ability to prevent and treat placental abnormalities to improve pregnancy outcomes in the short term but also the lifelong health of mother and baby.”

Dr Arthurs hopes this research could be translated into tests for placental ageing status to identify women at risk and provide early detection of pregnancy complications so intervention can occur.

“At the very least, detection of women at risk would trigger appropriate management to ameliorate complications, including early induction of labour to prevent stillbirth,” Dr Arthurs says.

“Future novel treatments may permit the fetus to remain in utero to complete development safely.”


Research category: Maternal Health

Project title: How do circular RNAs in the placenta contribute to pregnancy complications?

Lead researcher: Dr Anya Arthurs

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