Magic embryology: placental role in diet and oxygen (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Saturday, January 19, 2019, 20:03 (1257 days ago) @ David Turell

If diet is poor and oxygen is low, the placenta makes adjustments:

"The placenta develops during pregnancy and connects the developing baby to the mother. It serves as the lungs, kidneys, gut and liver for growing babies and carries oxygen and nutrients to the fetus whilst secreting hormones and discarding waste. (my bold)


"Dr. Sferruzzi-Perri said: "The study analysed how mitochondria in the placenta may alter their function to support both the needs of the placenta and the rapidly growing fetus during a healthy pregnancy, and when the mother is challenged by a less desirable environment.

"'We found that in the placenta, mitochondria have a remarkable ability to adapt and compensate for environmental impacts such as when women are living in low oxygen areas at high altitude and not eating enough of a healthy diet during pregnancy."

"Changing lifestyles in society which see women consuming nutritionally deficient diets during pregnancy can cause pregnancy complications and living at high altitudes above 2500m in places such as Bolivia, Peru, Tibet and Ethiopia restricts oxygen levels. It is estimated that around two per cent of the human population—140 million people—live in areas with low oxygen.


"The team of scientists introduced challenges—known as hypoxic conditions—in the laboratory. They used the mouse as a model, as its placenta develops and functions in a similar way to humans, looking at how the placenta and their mitochondria reacted and what impact this had on the growth of the fetus.

"Dr. Sferruzzi-Perri explained: "Mitochondria in the placenta work out how to use oxygen and nutrients in the most efficient way so there is still sufficient for transfer to the fetus even in challenged pregnancies. When the placenta cannot compensate for the challenges then this can lead complications such as fetal growth restriction."

"'We know that there is a lasting impact on the health of babies born with fetal growth restriction because organs and tissues like the heart, pancreas, muscles, and liver, are very sensitive when they are developing in the womb. If those organs don't grow properly they are more likely to malfunction in later life."

"The aim of the study—the first of its kind—was to understand what is required for a healthy placenta to perform its vital functions during pregnancy.

"Dr. Sferruzzi-Perri added: "Our findings show mitochondria are really important determinants of placental function and support of fetal growth. The next step would be to target mitochondria in the placenta to alter their function and improve pregnancy success in women where we know the outcome might be poor."

"When babies are born with fetal growth restriction, the team had previously found the buffering mechanism of the placenta was insufficient during pregnancy."

Comment: The evolution of uterine/placental birth was a tremendous advance in reproduction and I know of no research explaining how it might have evolved. Note my bold. The placenta has multiple functions to ensure proper survival of the developing fetus. It had to appear designed for all its functions when uterine pregnancy appeared. Only a designer can create this type of evolutionary advance.

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