Arts & Sciences Medicine

Pregnancy shifts the daily schedule forward

Add this to the list of what to expect: Getting up earlier, at least in the first trimester.

New research from Washington University in St. Louis finds that women and mice both shift their daily schedules earlier by up to a few hours during the first third of their pregnancy. A new study by researchers in Arts & Sciences and at the School of Medicine shows how impending motherhood induces changes in daily timing of a mother which, when disrupted, may put a pregnancy at risk, as reported in the Journal of Biological Rhythms.

Nationwide, one in 10 babies is born too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy have been completed. Shift work and other disruptions of a regular sleep-wake schedule have been associated with preterm birth and other poor reproductive outcomes. But previously little was known about circadian timing during pregnancy.“This is a very important first step in understanding what’s happening in term pregnancy, and it has a potential to inform our ability to intervene and prevent preterm birth in certain populations,” said Carmel A. Martin-Fairey, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of biology in Arts & Sciences and in obstetrics and gynecology at the School of Medicine.

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