Suspect is protein made by the fetus and needed to form placenta’s blood vessels
A protein made by the fetus may lead to preeclampsia in moms.
People born to mothers who had the prenatal disorder were more likely to have certain DNA variations near a gene known to influence blood vessels. The results, published online June 19 in Nature Genetics, point to that gene as a possible preeclampsia culprit, and may help scientists develop ways to stop or prevent the pregnancy complication. Preeclampsia, which is marked by a dangerous spike in blood pressure, affects about 5 percent of pregnancies and is estimated to kill over 70,000 women a year globally.
Scientists have known that preeclampsia can run in families, but the genetics of the fetus hadn’t been scrutinized. “Over the years, people have looked at mothers’ genes,” says geneticist Linda Morgan of the University of Nottingham in England. “This is the first large study to look at babies’ genes.”