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Birth timing may affect brain development

Birth time can alter when widespread neuron death begins

Society for Neuroscience

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IMAGE: Advancing birth triggers cell death, but delaying birth does not affect timing of cell death. view more 

Credit: Castillo-Ruiz et al., eNeuro 2020

Moving birth a day early triggers an early start to widespread neuron death, according to new research in mice published in eNeuro.

Right before and after birth, about half of the neurons in the developing brain die. Scientists have known about this normal process for half a century, but no one knows what controls it. Is it an external signal like birth, or an innate developmental mechanism?

Castillo-Ruiz et al. induced labor a day early or pushed birth a day late in mice - still within the healthy time frame- and monitored how the change affected neuron death. By focusing on brain regions that experience extreme cell death soon after birth, the researchers could detect the effects of small changes in birth timing.

Early birth prompted cell death to start a day early but delaying birth did not alter when cell death occurred. This indicates that a developmental process takes over when birth is delayed. The results raise questions about the consequences for subsequent brain development when women opt to induce labor early.

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Manuscript title: Does Birth Trigger Cell Death in the Developing Brain?

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About eNeuro

eNeuro is an online, open-access journal published by the Society for Neuroscience. Established in 2014, eNeuro publishes a wide variety of content, including research articles, short reports, reviews, commentaries and opinions.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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