Kori Siroky gave birth to her first baby at 29 weeks, and she weighed 3 lbs, 3 oz. Three years later, her second child was also born prematurely (34 weeks and 5 lbs, 4 oz.) Why she delivered both babies prematurely continues to confound Kori, even today.
“I was caught totally by surprise with my first child,” says Kori. “But for my second pregnancy, I’d done all that I could, and more: continuous contact with doctors, progesterone shots, healthy eating, and good sleep habits. Afterwards I kept thinking ‘what’s wrong with my body, why can’t I carry a baby to term.’”
Everywhere she turned, the answers were unsatisfying. It was especially troubling because both sets of parents had no history of the condition. The truth is that, even today, the underlying causes of premature birth continue to stymie both doctors and medical researchers.
Dr. Muglia Provides Some Hope
Until she met Dr. Louis Muglia, Director of the Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, part of the Ohio Collaborative and one of the March of Dimes-sponsored Prematurity Research Centers. Dr. Muglia is leading a team of researchers trying to determine the genes that cause preterm birth. Once doctors understand these genes, they may be able to identify new targets to develop therapies, or develop screens that can identify biomarkers.
Kori also worked at Cincinnati Children’s and, soon after her second child was born, she heard of his program and signed up to participate.
“He told me that whatever triggered it in my body with the first pregnancy was likely the same thing that happened in my second,” says Kori. “And that was a very different message from the doctor who told me after my first, ‘We’ll get you there full term next time.’
“I’m just so thankful to have found him and I’m now contributing to understanding the causes of the condition and finding a cure. I encourage any mother who has experienced this to sign up. It’s non-invasive, all you do is collect your child’s saliva and basically take a Q-tip to the inside of your cheek—that’s it.
“But if it can help researchers find a cure for this devastating condition, it’s so worth it,” she adds. “We have made such dramatic advances in diabetes, cancer, heart conditions—it’s time we accomplished the same for prematurity.”
If you’re interested in participating in The FETAL (Family and Environment in Timing for Abnormal Labor) Study project at Cincinnati Children’s and the University of Cincinnati, just click on the link for more information.