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Major findings on fetal research to be unveiled at University of Leicester

Pioneering research into how fetal growth affected by adverse events in the uterus influences the development of illnesses in adult life, including major findings on changes which occur in fetuses, are to be presented at the University of Leicester.

Professor Justin Konje, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Leicester, will discuss the fetal origins of adult diseases in his inaugural lecture on Tuesday 27th June at 5.30pm, Ken Edwards Lecture Theatre 1, University of Leicester.

He said: "One quarter of adults in the UK suffer from new heart attacks every year, a third of the population have high blood pressure and over 2.6M people living in the UK have had a disease of the circulatory system. In addition, another 1.9M adults in the UK suffer from diabetes mellitus. Last year, approximately 2285 patients went on the list for kidney transplant. These and many other long-term illnesses are thought to be linked to intrauterine life. While there is enough evidence from the UK and different parts of the world to support this hypothesis of intrauterine origins of adult diseases, several questions remain unanswered about the precise mechanisms by which these occur and how some babies (the small ones) are prone to these diseases.

"This inaugural lecture will focus on the research which has been undertaken at the University of Leicester to unravel some of the complexities of this hypothesis, including major findings on the changes which occur in the fetuses (babies in the womb) such as the “Sausage-shaped” kidneys, altered blood distribution (prior to fetal death) that may explain the mechanisms by which these babies are at an increased risk."

Additionally, work which has been undertaken to improve a better understanding of fetal growth, how it is identified and monitored especially the first ever use of 3-D ultrasound scan to assess placental function and blood flow will be presented. The role of factors such as xenobiotics, which control fetal growth, will also be discussed.

Professor Konje, who is based at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, added: "I will share my views on the future of research in this health priority area and the direction in which my research in this area within the University of Leicester may lead to.

"Research into the fetal origins of adult diseases, should help provide potential options on how to minimise fetal growth restriction, precise and early identification, the long-term implications of the different types and more importantly how to devise strategies to reduce the incidence of adult diseases which put together are the most commonly reported causes of long-term ill health."

Alex Jelley | alfa
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