Genetic test for low birth weight on the horizon

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Researchers from the University of Queensland in collaboration with the University of Exeter, Oxford University and Cambridge University, have successfully identified 190 genetic factors associated with low birth weight. The results of the study entitled "Maternal and fetal genetic effects on birth weight and their relevance to cardio-metabolic risk factors" have been published in the latest issue of the journal Genetics of nature.

The researchers successfully identified 190 genetic factors associated with low birth weight. They hope that someday this can be used to develop a universal genetic test.pyansetia200 | Shutterstock

The researchers found that for two thirds of the time, these connections are true. Dr. Nicole Warrington of the UQ Diamantina Institute said that the birth weight of a child was one of the most important factors determining children's health:

A low birth weight can not only put the child at risk of mortality, but is also associated with an increased risk of developing diseases such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension when the child grows ".

Dr Nicole Warrington

A quarter of the genetic bonds that have been identified could be predicted from the mother's genes. Scientists have noticed that the mother's genes predicted whether a baby would be born premature, as well as available nutrients (in the form of glucose, a type of sugar).

This is the first study of its kind to consider the effects of both mother and child genes on birth weight, said statistical geneticist Professor David Evans. "It is particularly useful to know about maternal genetic influences because the identity of these genes gives us clues as to which factors, such as glucose, influence fetal growth. A better understanding of the causes may mean that we can help ensure that children are born with healthy weights, "he added.

The dott. Warrington said he also followed the details of genetic associations with birth weight and diseases later in life. He said: "The methods we have developed to disentangle maternal and fetal genetic influences on birth weight have potential potential to also tell us the effects of the intrauterine environment on the outcomes of future life … For example, children more "Children are more likely to have blood pressure in adulthood. Our work shows that this is due to genetic effects," he said.

The team examined the birth weight of 321,223 and confirmed it with the birth weight of their children in 230,069 mothers. They successfully identified 190 independent association signals. Of these 129 have never been reported before.

The authors also found a genetic association between low birth weight and high blood pressure later in life. They found that if the mother's genetic makeup predicted her to have high blood pressure, the child would also develop high blood pressure later in life.

The previous research found an association between transcriptome and BMI

Authors S Peng of the Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York and colleagues recently examined the effects of placental genetic modulation and its effects on birth weight and childhood obesity. Their study entitled "The genetic regulation of the placental transcriptome is the basis of birth weight and the risk of childhood obesity", was published recently in December 2019 in the journal PLoS Genetics.

They found that the placenta and its genetic composition played an important role in birth weight, childhood obesity and body mass index during childhood. Their results revealed that alterations in the placenta transcriptome or placental genes that are transcribed into proteins especially in a specific location called "GWAS" influenced birth weight, infant BMI and ; childhood obesity in children.

In addition, authors RN Beaumont of the Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, University of Exeter Medical School, University of Exeter and colleagues of last year carried out a similar study in a large cohort of 86 577 women.

The study entitled "Study on the genomic association of the birth weight of offspring in 86 577 women identifies five new loci and highlights maternal genetic effects independent of fetal genetics", was published last year in Human molecular genetics.

The team examined composite data of 8.7 million SNPs in 86 577 women of European descent from the Early Growth Genetics (EGG) consortium and the British Biobank. The authors explain that fetal genetics has been the subject of studies on risk factors in low birth weight. The same cannot be said of maternal genetic variation. The team found that there were 10 loci in the maternal genetic codes associated with fetal birth weight.

Some of these have previously been associated with adult blood sugar levels, sex hormone levels and duration of pregnancy in adults. This new association also adds factors such as the mother's immune function and her blood pressure during pregnancy.

The same effect was found in children of decent African and Asian descent

Another study last year by F. Tekola-Ayele of the Epidemiology division, division of intramural population health research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development, National Institutes of Health and colleagues examined the genetic variants associated with low birth weight among children of African and Asian descent. Their study entitled "High Weight of Genetic Variations That Lower Birth Weight in Africans and Asians" was published last year BMC Medicine.

The team writes that despite similar maternal conditions, fetal growth and birth weight show regional and population changes. They explain that many of these factors are not explained by environmental factors and could be explained by genetic differences.

The team extracted genomic data from phase 3 of the 1000 Genomes Project for 2504 participants from 26 global populations. The data was classified into five superpopulations. The team found 59 "autosomal single-nucleotide polymorphisms" or SNPs associated with birth weight.

European and non-European descent was compared. They found that those with African and Asian ancestry (east and south) than Europeans had more birth weight by reducing genetic variations. The authors conclude: "This result is consistent with the high incidence of low birth weight in the two populations".

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