Discovery: the sex of the baby would influence pregnancy diseases

2 min

We are not all equal to the risk of complications during pregnancy. But a new study changes the game: the risks of diseases such as pre-eclampsia would not be the same if you expect a girl or a boy. We explain to you!

We know that the sex of the future baby has no influence on the construction of the fetus, organs developing in the same way. But a study published in the journal JCI Insight reveals that it is not the same for the placenta.

According to researchers at the University of Cambridge, the genetic profile of it is very different depending on the sex of the future baby. This has an influence on pregnancy diseases: thus, male fetuses are more likely to experience intrauterine growth retardation, while female fetuses increase the risk of pre-eclampsia in the mother.


What role does spermine play in the growth of the fetus?

To arrive at these conclusions, the scientists followed 4,212 women waiting for their first child, from their first ultrasound to their delivery. By analyzing placenta and maternal samples of these future mothers, they found that the genetic profile of the placenta is very different depending on the sex of the baby.

The researchers then discovered that one of these genes controls the level of a small molecule called spermine. This molecule plays the role of the growth hormone.

When the future baby is a girl, the placenta has a higher level of spermine. And this has a direct impact on the mother: this molecule is also present in her blood, at a higher rate than that of pregnant women of boys.

In conclusion, it is this high concentration of spermine that would increase the risk of pre-eclampsia in pregnant women of a girl. As the molecule is responsible for the growth of the fetus, the opposite also has consequences: if its rate is too low in the placenta, it can cause stunting in the future baby.


An advance in the search for complications related to pregnancy

Each year, about 20% of women face a complication during their pregnancy and the rate of prematurity is 6% in France. Thanks to this research, the causes of pregnancy diseases, such as pre-eclampsia, could be better understood.

Even today, it causes in 10% of the cases a risk for the life of the mother and the unborn baby. If it is better detected, and therefore treated as early as possible, the risks decrease. Pre-eclampsia is one of the most common and most severe complications of pregnancy.

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Intrauterine growth retardation is the leading cause of infant mortality. This disorder causes short-term difficulties for the infant, such as an intellectual or motor disability. It is also the cause of many adult-onset conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, long-term neurodevelopmental disorders …

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