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    Iowa March of Dimes funds University of Iowa Research Grant

    Michelle Gogerty, March of Dimes, (515) 657-6294, mgogerty@marchofdimes.com

    Iowa City, Iowa, February 23, 2012 —

    For the second consecutive year, Jeffrey C. Murray, MD, Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Iowa in Iowa City, has been awarded a Prematurity Research Initiative grant co-sponsored by the March of Dimes Iowa Chapter and the March of Dimes national office. Dr. Murray is seeking to identify genetic and environmental factors that may contribute to spontaneous premature birth.

    More than half a million babies are born prematurely (before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy) each year in the United States. Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and others. As part of the Prematurity Campaign to reduce the incidence of premature birth, the March of Dimes is supporting a special research program called the Prematurity Research Initiative. Since 2005, the March of Dimes has awarded nearly $20 million in PRI grants to leading researchers who are working to identify the causes of premature birth.

    Dr. Murray is using the latest genetic technology to search the entire human genome for variant versions of genes that may contribute to premature birth. He also is seeking to identify environmental factors, such as chemical exposures, infections and lifestyle factors, which may interact with such variant genes to cause prematurity. Family studies suggest that genetic factors play a role in about 40 percent of spontaneous premature births, and environmental factors may contribute to the remaining 60 percent. Dr. Murray’s study may help unravel the complex causes of spontaneous premature birth, possibly bringing us closer to finding out how to reliably predict and prevent it.

    Dr. Murray joined the University of Iowa in 1984.

    The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies®, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
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