How are Labor and Delivery Triggered?
According to a study out of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and published in PLOS ONE, in a normal full-term pregnancy, signals from the mature organs of the fetus and the aging placental membranes and placenta prompt the uterus’ muscular walls to begin the labor and delivery process. Since this process is still somewhat unclear, the study decided to delve further into the issue.
“It’s important that we gain a better understanding of how these signals interact and work in normal full-term pregnancies because it can provide insights into how and why these signals activate too early and trigger the labor and delivery process prematurely,” said one researcher.
The reason the triggers for birth are important is because according to the World Health Organization (WHO) an estimated 15 million babies are born pre-term (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) each year. The complications from this are the chief cause of death among children under five years of age.
The researchers studied the production and movement of exosomes, which are a specific type of molecular container that transports chemical signals between cells. They found when they purposely stressed the exosomes, they contained a molecule called p38 MAPK that is known to be linked to delivery by speeding up certain factors associated with births that included the aging of the placenta and increasing sterile inflammation of the uterus. This lead to functional withdrawal of the pregnancy hormone progesterone, prompting uterine contractions. The presence of stress-induced p38 MAPK can lead to contractions, even when the fetus is not yet fully developed.
This research can hopefully lead to a better understanding of labor and delivery, helping avoid premature birth and the complications that accompany it.
Razi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.