Gravida Associate investigator Dr Tania Slatter of the Department of Pathology, University of Otago, Dunedin is co-author on a paper to be published in the January edition of the international journal Human Pathology that suggests smoking while pregnant causes severe DNA damage to cells in the placenta and significantly impairs its function.
Dr Slatter and colleagues have identified greatly increased rates of double-strand DNA breaks in smokers’ placental cells. Such breaks are a severe form of DNA damage that can lead to cells becoming genetically unstable. They also found that the more cigarettes a woman smoked, the greater the DNA damage.
Dr Slatter was recently granted Gravida short-term funding to investigate the significance of DNA damage in fetal growth restriction (FGR). This research has potential to identify an underlying cause of FGR, and provide a greater understanding of why this condition leads to a low birth weight, and future health problems for the child.
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