Maternal and Fetal Genetic Contributions to Postterm Birth: Familial Clustering in a Population-Based Sample of 475,429 Swedish Births

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This study examines the familial clustering and relative influence of genetic and environmental effects on postterm birth in the Swedish population by considering all full- and half-siblings born in Sweden between 1992 and 2004. Of the eligible 475,429 births, 21% occurred after 41 completed weeks and 5.5% occurred after 42 completed weeks of gestation. Odds of postterm birth increased if mothers were older, heavier, more educated, primiparous, or carrying a male fetus. The highest odds increase was seen in women with a previous postterm birth, both with the same partner (odds ratio = 4.4, 95% confidence interval: 4.0, 4.6) and after a partner change (odds ratio = 3.4, 95% confidence interval: 2.9, 3.9). Sisters of women with a postterm birth were also at increased odds of postterm birth (odds ratio = 1.8, 95% confidence interval: 1.6, 2.0) while brothers’ partners were not. Half of the variation in postterm birth could not be explained by factors shared in families, and the remaining half was explained by genetic factors, namely fetal (26%) and maternal (21%) genetic factors. Familial clustering of postterm birth is attributed to genetic effects, and fetal genetic effects have a considerable influence on the liability of postterm birth.

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