Segment: Fetal Infections Lead to Heart Disease

Recent studies indicate that infants born prematurely have a higher risk of developing heart disease later in life. Now, researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle have shown that, in preterm animal models, inflammation due to infection can disrupt the activity of genes crucial for normal heart development.

The “Editors’ Choice” study appears Jan. 23 in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Its connects the dots between preterm birth and heart disease in adult life by defining the gene networks disrupted by infection and inflammation that program normal heart development.

Download video of UW Medicine maternal and fetal infection expert Dr. Kristina Adams Waldorf, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, discussing findings. Other study co-leaders were Dr. Lakshmi Rajagopal, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine and an expert on newborn infectious diseases at Seattle Children's Research Institute and UW Medicine; and Dr. Timothy Mitchell, an obstetrician specializing in high-risk pregnancies and a former UW Medicine fellow in maternal and fetal medicine.

Credit: UW Medicine