Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Balancing Hormones May Help Prevent Preterm Births

Date:
April 8, 2009
Source:
The Endocrine Society
Summary:
The relationship between two different types of estrogen and a hormone produced in the placenta may serve as the mechanism for signaling labor, according to a new study. This finding may help doctors intervene and prevent preterm birth much more effectively.

The relationship between two different types of estrogen and a hormone produced in the placenta may serve as the mechanism for signaling labor, according to a new study. This finding may help doctors intervene and prevent preterm birth much more effectively.

Related Articles


"The trigger for the onset of labor in women has been a puzzle for a long time," says Dr. Roger Smith, MD, PhD, of John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, Australia and lead author of the study. "Our findings show we may have an answer, and furthermore may be able to delay or advance labor."

Humans have two types of estrogen called estradiol (E2) and estriol (E3). When E2 and E3 are in roughly equal amounts there is no drive to labor, but the opposite holds true once one becomes in greater excess than the other. This study evaluated the ratio of E3 to E2 in 500 pregnant women and found that it went up rapidly as labor approached indicating that E3 could stimulate the onset of labor.

Dr. Smith and his colleagues then sought to understand what was causing the increase in E3 and they believe they found an answer. In a previous study they showed that a hormone in the placenta, called corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), rises rapidly through pregnancy, peaking at the time of labor. CRH levels rise earlier in women who deliver prematurely and later in women who deliver late, forming a biological clock that regulates the length of pregnancy.

Researchers also showed that CRH can act on the adrenal glands of the fetus to stimulate the production of a steroid hormone which the placenta uses to make E3. This study showed a strong relationship between CRH levels in the mother's blood in the weeks before birth and the levels of E3 supporting the view that CRH increases E3.

"CRH may be the catalyst for the onset of labor, by driving steroid hormone production in the fetus, which then leads to an increase in E3 so that it exceeds E2," said Dr. Smith. "If this progression is correct, it may explain why women with a baby who dies in utero can still go into labor. In this scenario, levels of E3 would drop making E2 more dominant and triggering the onset of labor."

"It may be possible to delay or advance labor by varying the ratio of E3 to E2 by giving either E2 or E3 to the pregnant woman," said Dr. Smith. "It may also be possible to predict the timing of birth by monitoring this ratio between the two estrogens."

Dr. Smith notes that this is the first study to show these results and confirmation through further research is needed.

Other researchers working on the study include Julia Smith, Patricia Engel, Maria Bowman, Andrew Bisits and Shaun McGrath of the Mothers and Babies Research Centre at the University of Newcastle in Australia; and Patrick McElduff of the Hunter Medical Research Institute in Newcastle, Australia; David Smith of the University of Western Australia; and Warwick Giles of the University of Sydney in Australia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Endocrine Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Smith et al. Patterns of Plasma Corticotrophin-Releasing Hormone, Progesterone, Estradiol and Estriol Change and the Onset of Human Labor. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2009; DOI: 10.1210/jc.2008-2257

Cite This Page:

The Endocrine Society. "Balancing Hormones May Help Prevent Preterm Births." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401101844.htm>.
The Endocrine Society. (2009, April 8). Balancing Hormones May Help Prevent Preterm Births. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401101844.htm
The Endocrine Society. "Balancing Hormones May Help Prevent Preterm Births." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401101844.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — One man hopes his invention -– a machine that produces cheap sanitary pads –- will help empower Indian women. Duration: 01:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

Newsy (Nov. 28, 2014) — WHO cites four studies that say Ebola can still be detected in semen up to 82 days after the onset of symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins