March of Dimes
What we’re working on: a look into labs of the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Centers
Circadian rhythms have a profound effect on metabolism, the immune system - and in the latest research from Drs. Herzog and Jungheim, maybe even preterm birth.
We've long known that our circadian rhythms have profound effects on how — and especially when — we go about our daily lives. These cycles are influenced by the various intervals of light and darkness we experience over a 24-hour period, but also can be triggered by biological factors, our genetics and even our environment. The range of circadian impacts runs from relatively unnoticed, like our moods and ability to cope with stressors, to the most obvious, like when we are hungry or sleepy.
Circadian rhythms also have a profound effect on the onset of labor, with approximately 80% of women going into spontaneous labor between late night and early morning. And some studies have even shown that altering a pregnant woman's circadian rhythms can disrupt the fetus' growth and development. But could these rhythms also be a key factor in preterm birth? That's exactly what a team of researchers at the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis are working on.