Study: Gene mutations play a role in premature birth

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Study: Gene mutations play a role in premature birth - Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5 p.m. on September 7, 2017. (WPVI)

Doctors are getting new clues into what causes preterm birth.

Six gene variants have been identified and this could lead to ways to prevent women going into labor too soon.

If you look at the scope of the problem, preterm is birth before 37 weeks. It can lead to life-long problems and early death and it happens in almost 10 percent of babies in the US.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows mutations in six genes are associated with babies being born prematurely.

It also shows how a lack of selenium, a mineral found in many foods, may play a role.

The findings in the study could help lead to treatments to prevent preterm birth in the future.

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