Friday, June 20th, 2014
Pregnant women who are overweight may have an electrical “switch” in their uterine muscle that makes Cesarean section delivery more likely, according to new research published in the journal Nature Communications. The switch is believed to play a role in the progression of labor, and in overweight women is often found to be faulty. More from ScienceDaily:
It’s well known that strong rhythmic contractions of the uterus are needed to allow the baby’s head to dilate the cervix. However little was known about what controls these contractions until now.The groundbreaking research from Monash University, the Royal Women’s Hospital and the Hunter Medical Research Institute, show that a potassium ion channel called hERG in the uterus is responsible.
Acting as a powerful electrical brake, hERG works during pregnancy to suppress contractions and prevent premature labour. However, at the onset of labour a protein acts as a switch to turn hERG off, removing the brake and ensuring that labour can take place.
The team, led by Professor Helena Parkington from the School of Biomedical Sciences at Monash University, found that in overweight women the switch doesn’t work, failing to turn hERG off.
“We’ve known for years that women who are overweight are much more likely to experience complications during pregnancy and labour — but we didn’t know why,” Professor Parkington said.
“Pinpointing the mechanism is a major breakthrough, not only does it ensure a smooth pregnancy, but knowing when contractions kick in at more or less the right time, is crucial to our understanding of the labour process.”
Image: C-section prep, via Shutterstock
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Friday, April 18th, 2014
The FDA is warning that a procedure in which an electronically powered device is used to grind up and remove uterine growths, saying that the procedure carries a risk of inadvertently spreading an undetected cancer to other parts of the body. More from The Associated Press:
Known as laparoscopic power morcellation, the technique is used to treat painful fibroids, either by removing the growths themselves or the entire uterus.
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The procedure was developed as a less invasive alternative to traditional surgery.
But FDA says the procedure could actually be spreading uterine cancer to other parts of the body. The agency estimates that 1 in 350 women who undergo fibroid procedure may have an undetected cancer known as uterine sarcoma.
Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
A group of 9 women have undergone successful womb transplant surgeries in Sweden, and their next step will be to attempt to become pregnant via in vitro fertilization (IVF)–a medical first, if successful. More from Time.com:
The women, mostly in their 30s, who were either born without a uterus or had it removed because of cancer, are part of the first major experiment to see if a woman with a transplanted uterus can become pregnant and give birth to the child. The women received wombs donated from relatives. Women from two previous womb transplant attempts–in Turkey and Saudi Arabia–both failed to carry a baby.
Scientists in several countries are working on similar operations, but the Swedish group is the most advanced, the AP reports. Dr. Mats Brannstrom, chair of the obstetrics and gynecology department at the University of Gothenburg, will hold a workshop next month on how to perform womb transplants and publish their findings.
Image: Surgeons, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, September 20th, 2012
Two Swedish women who were in need of uterine transplants in order to become pregnant have reportedly successfully received the transplants courtesy of their mothers, who donated their uteruses to their daughters. The two women, who are both in their 30s, are without a uterus for different reasons; one had it removed years ago because of cervical cancer, the other was born without one. MSNBC.com reports:
Specialists at the University of Goteborg completed the surgery over the weekend without complications, but say they won’t consider the procedures successful unless the women achieve pregnancy after their observation period ends a year from now.
“We are not going to call it a complete success until this results in children,” said Michael Olausson, one of the Swedish surgeons told The Associated Press. “That’s the best proof.”
He said the daughters started in-vitro fertilization, or IVF, before the surgery.
IVF uses hormones to stimulate the ovaries, which the women already had, to produce eggs. Scientists would fertilize the eggs with sperm in a lab, before freezing the embryos. The frozen embryos would then be thawed and transferred if the women are in good health after the observation period, Olausson said. After a maximum of two pregnancies, the wombs will be removed again.
Image: Woman in surgery, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, July 26th, 2012
Women who have children in their 30s or 40s may have a lower risk of endometrial cancer, which is cancer of the lining of the uterus, according to a new study. From MSNBC.com:
Women who give birth over age 40 were 44 percent less likely to have the cancer than women whose last birth occurred at or before age 25, the researchers found.
For women whose last birth occurred between ages 35 to 39, the risk decreased by 32 percent, and for women who last gave birth between ages 30 and 34, their risk decreased by 17 percent, compared to those who delivered their last baby by age 25.
The effect was seen even as the women aged, showing that the “protection persists for many years,” said author Wendy Setiawan, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.
Image: Mother and baby, via Shutterstock.
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