Born too soon
Can evolution guide the search for genes involved in preterm birth?
We humans are a big-headed lot. We need the space for our large brains – they’re what make us human, after all. But our outsized pates are not so optimal when it comes to being born and fitting through the female pelvis, narrowed by our fondness for walking on two legs.
It usually works – we’re born before our heads get too big to fit. Evolution finessed the parameters to get it right, posits Louis Muglia, M.D., Ph.D.
“We think that human pregnancy had to adapt and push the time of birth to the earliest compatible with optimal survival for both the mom and the fetus,” says Muglia, Edward Claiborne Stahlman Professor and vice chair for Research Affairs in the Department of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center .
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