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Genes 2016, 7(4), 15;

Epigenetic Biomarkers of Preterm Birth and Its Risk Factors

Genetics and Molecular Biology Program, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Jeffrey Craig and Thomas Mikeska
Received: 12 February 2016 / Revised: 28 March 2016 / Accepted: 8 April 2016 / Published: 13 April 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epigenetic Biomarkers)
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A biomarker is a biological measure predictive of a normal or pathogenic process or response. Biomarkers are often useful for making clinical decisions and determining treatment course. One area where such biomarkers would be particularly useful is in identifying women at risk for preterm delivery and related pregnancy complications. Neonates born preterm have significant morbidity and mortality, both in the perinatal period and throughout the life course, and identifying women at risk of delivering preterm may allow for targeted interventions to prevent or delay preterm birth (PTB). In addition to identifying those at increased risk for preterm birth, biomarkers may be able to distinguish neonates at particular risk for future complications due to modifiable environmental factors, such as maternal smoking or alcohol use during pregnancy. Currently, there are no such biomarkers available, though candidate gene and epigenome-wide association studies have identified DNA methylation differences associated with PTB, its risk factors and its long-term outcomes. Further biomarker development is crucial to reducing the health burden associated with adverse intrauterine conditions and preterm birth, and the results of recent DNA methylation studies may advance that goal. View Full-Text
Keywords: epigenetics; biomarker; preterm birth; methylation; pregnancy; gestation epigenetics; biomarker; preterm birth; methylation; pregnancy; gestation

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Knight, A.K.; Smith, A.K. Epigenetic Biomarkers of Preterm Birth and Its Risk Factors. Genes 2016, 7, 15.

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