A 'biobank' to study the genetics of premature birth

Sarah Stock, Heather MacPherson, Jane Norman

A woman's genetic code can influence how likely she is to have a preterm birth. We have tested ways of collecting samples so that we can set up a 'biobank' to look at the genes involved.

This research study is complete

A woman's genetic code can change the way she responds to treatments to prevent premature birth. We want to set up a 'biobank' - a collection of biological samples from mothers and children – so that we can study how genes influence the risk of preterm birth.

To do this, we needed to find the best way of involving pregnant women in the study, and of collecting and looking at the samples. We tested whether recruiting women by post would be possible: to do this, we sent invitations to 711 women who had taken part in the OPPTIMUM trial. 205 women responded positively, and were sent packets for collection of saliva samples from themselves and their baby. The women were also asked to fill in a short questionnaire.

In total, around 23% of mothers and 19% of mother and baby pairs who we invited to take part returned their samples. For most of the mother's saliva samples, we were able to get enough information about their DNA to carry out more work. However, we were not able to do this with most of the samples from babies.

The results from this study show that postal recruitment and collection works for adults, but does not give good results when used to get samples from infants. The samples we collected will now be used in a larger study to test if differences in a woman's genes change her response to a particular hormone, progesterone. 



Thanks for your interest in our research

Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for pregnancy complications and loss. Maternal and fetal research is underfunded and we need your support to continue. There are many small and large ways you can support us, find out more here.


This study is fully funded by Tommy's and takes place in a Tommy's centre

Hide details

Latest news and views

    Was this information useful?

    Yes No


    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.

    Your comment

    Add new comment