Scientists have hailed a breakthrough in prenatal care after identifying a major cause of premature birth – and a promising treatment.
They have discovered that a serious placenta defect that harms 3,000 pregnancies a year in the UK is produced by a chemical imbalance.
And they are confident that an existing drug that is safe for pregnant women could prove an effective treatment for the condition – which in many cases causes the baby to die or suffer severe brain damage.
University of Manchester researchers believe that the placenta defect – which curbs the flow of blood between the mother and foetus – is caused by elevated levels of a dangerous chemical called cell free fetal haemoglobin. This makes the blood cells of the placenta narrow and stiffen.