Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why are girl babies winning in the battle for survival?

Date:
May 27, 2014
Source:
University of Adelaide
Summary:
Sexual inequality between boys and girls starts as early as in the mother's womb, but how and why this occurs could be a key to preventing higher rates of preterm birth, stillbirth and neonatal death among boys. "Our results suggest that there is a distinct sex bias in the regulation of genes in the human placenta," says the lead author of a new study, adding that the findings "may be important to help guide future sex-specific therapeutics for pregnant women and for babies in the neonatal nursery."

Sexual inequality between boys and girls starts as early as in the mother's womb, but how and why this occurs could be a key to preventing higher rates of preterm birth, stillbirth and neonatal death among boys.

A team from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute has been studying the underlying genetic and developmental reasons why male babies generally have worse outcomes than females, with significantly increased rates of pregnancy complications and poor health outcomes for males.

The results -- published in the journal Molecular Human Reproduction -- show that male and female babies develop in very different ways, and the placenta plays a key role in these gender differences.

"Our research has found that there are undeniable genetic and physiological differences between boys and girls that extend beyond just the development of their sexual characteristics," says senior author of the paper Professor Claire Roberts, leader of the fetal growth research priority for the Robinson Research Institute.

"We've known for some time that girls are clearly winning in the battle for survival, with markedly better outcomes for female babies for preterm birth, stillbirth, neonatal death, and other complications after birth, such as macrosomia (a baby that weighs more than 4-4.5kg or 8 pounds 13 ounces at birth). Male babies generally grow faster and bigger than females. This occurs in both the animal and human worlds, but until now we haven't really understood how or why," Professor Roberts says.

The researchers investigated whether the type and pattern of genes being expressed by the placenta is different for boys and girls.

They compared the genes expressed in 300 placenta samples and found that more than 140 genes were expressed differently across male and female samples.

"Our results suggest that there is a distinct sex bias in the regulation of genes in the human placenta," says lead author and University of Adelaide PhD student Sam Buckberry.

"We found that with female babies, there is much higher expression of genes involved in placental development, the maintenance of pregnancy and maternal immune tolerance.

"This suggests that girls are more likely to adopt a risk-averse strategy towards development and survival, and it goes some way to explaining the differences in male and female development in the womb," he says.

Professor Roberts says: "These findings may be important to help guide future sex-specific therapeutics for pregnant women and for babies in the neonatal nursery."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Buckberry, T. Bianco-Miotto, S. J. Bent, G. A. Dekker, C. T. Roberts. Integrative transcriptome meta-analysis reveals widespread sex-biased gene expression at the human fetal-maternal interface. Molecular Human Reproduction, 2014; DOI: 10.1093/molehr/gau035

Cite This Page:

University of Adelaide. "Why are girl babies winning in the battle for survival?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140527123528.htm>.
University of Adelaide. (2014, May 27). Why are girl babies winning in the battle for survival?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140527123528.htm
University of Adelaide. "Why are girl babies winning in the battle for survival?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140527123528.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mini Pacemaker Has No Wires

Mini Pacemaker Has No Wires

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Cardiac experts are testing a new experimental device designed to eliminate major surgery and still keep the heart on track. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
After Cancer: Rebuilding Breasts With Fat

After Cancer: Rebuilding Breasts With Fat

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) More than 269 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Many of them will need surgery and radiation, but there’s a new simple way to reconstruct tissue using a patient’s own fat. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood Clots in Kids

Blood Clots in Kids

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Every year, up to 200,000 Americans die from a blood clot that travels to their lungs. You’ve heard about clots in adults, but new research shows kids can get them too. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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:
from the past week

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