In chicken embryos, a rise in incubation temperature alone can disrupt normal development
M. Hutson et al/Science Signaling 2017
Certain birth defects of the face and heart can occur when babies’ mothers have a fever during the first trimester of pregnancy, a crucial time in an embryo’s development. Now scientists have figured out the molecular players that make it so.
In an experiment with chicken embryos, a temporary rise in incubation temperature — meant to mimic feverlike conditions — was enough to produce defects to the face and heart. The elevation in a growing embryo’s temperature, called hyperthermia, impacts the activity of heat-sensitive channels that are present in cells necessary for an embryo’s development, researchers report online October 10 in Science Signaling.
Although a connection between fever and these birth defects has been known for decades, says coauthor Eric Benner, a neonatologist at Duke University School of Medicine, there has been some debate as to