There are many published studies about the epigenetic effects of the prenatal and infant periods on health outcomes. However, there is very little knowledge regarding the effects of the intrapartum period (labor and birth) on health and epigenetic remodeling. Although the intrapartum period is relatively short compared to the complete perinatal period, there is emerging evidence that this time frame may be a critical formative phase for the human genome. Given the debates from the National Institutes of Health and World Health Organization regarding routine childbirth procedures, it is essential to establish the state of the science concerning normal intrapartum epigenetic physiology. EPIIC (Epigenetic Impact of Childbirth) is an international, interdisciplinary research collaboration with expertise in the fields of genetics, physiology, developmental biology, epidemiology, medicine, midwifery, and nursing. We hypothesize that events during the intrapartum period - specifically the use of synthetic oxytocin, antibiotics, and cesarean section - affect the epigenetic remodeling processes and subsequent health of the mother and offspring. The rationale for this hypothesis is based on recent evidence and current best practice.
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