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Healthy Placenta, Healthy Baby
New insights on placental development create the potential to aid in the IVF process.
November 2, 2020
For mothers-to-be and women trying to conceive, there are so many factors contributing to pregnancy failure. Sometimes, doctors can clearly point at an abnormal test result and say, ‘Aha! Right there--that’s the problem.” Women might also have insight into what’s giving them difficulty--hormonal imbalances, past illnesses, uterine disorders, etc. There are, however, some instances where there doesn’t seem to be an obvious explanation for what’s happening. Well, in that case, it may be a good idea to start from the very beginning--the placenta. Here’s what we know about it and why it matters.
A Vital Life Force
There’s a lot we know about the placenta.
Some may think of it in terms of the common culture. At the moment, it’s becoming increasingly normal to hear about women saving their placentas for leftovers to use in smoothies.
Why may you ask?
The placenta is the bearer of nutrients between mother and child throughout pregnancy. So, by the time those nine months are up, it’s full of wholesome goodness.
The placenta transfers blood through the umbilical cord and performs organ-specific functions when baby doesn’t yet have them. It’s also responsible for eliminating fetal waste.
There is no baby without the placenta, and, without a baby, there is no placenta. It’s for this reason that the infant-driven organ gets delivered too.
When future parents think about how babies develop, they’re typically concerned with health and growth. It’s fun to think about whether they’re the size of a pea or a baby carrot! But while they’ve been measuring our little ones to vegetables (and rightfully so), scientists have focused on placental development.
Here’s what they found--
When an egg is fertilized in the womb, it’s not the embryo which develops first, but the placenta. This makes a lot of sense, given that babies-in-utero need it to survive.
What happens during that growth is crucial. From the first cell-division, molecular events occur, and quick decisions are made, eventually creating the placenta. Suppose the first molecular event doesn’t go according to plan. In that case, it can change the trajectory of a pregnancy before it begins.
Aside from being informative, what could this information do for women trying to conceive?
These findings have the potential to aid in the IVF process. When looking at a possible viable embryo, one of the most telling things about it is detecting a placental progenitor.
If IVF practitioners know to look for these cells before implantation, it can make the process more seamless and successful. But what’s more, scientists now have the intel they need to make some real placental progress. Who doesn’t want that?
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