Genetic effects on the timing of parturition and links to fetal birth weight

Nat Genet. 2023 Apr;55(4):559-567. doi: 10.1038/s41588-023-01343-9. Epub 2023 Apr 3.


The timing of parturition is crucial for neonatal survival and infant health. Yet, its genetic basis remains largely unresolved. We present a maternal genome-wide meta-analysis of gestational duration (n = 195,555), identifying 22 associated loci (24 independent variants) and an enrichment in genes differentially expressed during labor. A meta-analysis of preterm delivery (18,797 cases, 260,246 controls) revealed six associated loci and large genetic similarities with gestational duration. Analysis of the parental transmitted and nontransmitted alleles (n = 136,833) shows that 15 of the gestational duration genetic variants act through the maternal genome, whereas 7 act both through the maternal and fetal genomes and 2 act only via the fetal genome. Finally, the maternal effects on gestational duration show signs of antagonistic pleiotropy with the fetal effects on birth weight: maternal alleles that increase gestational duration have negative fetal effects on birth weight. The present study provides insights into the genetic effects on the timing of parturition and the complex maternal-fetal relationship between gestational duration and birth weight.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight / genetics
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Parturition* / genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth* / genetics