DNA methylation: An epigenetic risk factor in preterm birth

Ramkumar Menon, Karen N. Conneely, Alicia K. Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    46 Scopus citations


    Spontaneous preterm birth (PTB; birth prior to 37 weeks of gestation) is a complex phenotype with multiple risk factors that complicate our understanding of its etiology. A number of recent studies have supported the hypothesis that epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation induced by pregnancy-related risk factors may influence the risk of PTB or result in changes that predispose a neonate to adult-onset diseases. The critical role of timing of gene expression in the etiology of PTB makes it a highly relevant disorder in which to examine the potential role of epigenetic changes. Because changes in DNA methylation patterns can result in long-term consequences, it is of critical interest to identify the epigenetic patterns associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. This review examines the potential role of DNA methylation as a risk factor for PTB and discusses several issues and limitations that should be considered when planning DNA methylation studies.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)6-13
    Number of pages8
    JournalReproductive Sciences
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 2012


    • DNA
    • epigenetics
    • genetics
    • prematurity
    • preterm labor

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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