10 - Preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications as an adaptive response to unfamiliar semen  pp. 191-204

Preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications as an adaptive response to unfamiliar semen

By Jennifer A. Davis and Gordon G. Jr. Gallup

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Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a leading cause of prenatal infant mortality (Mac Gillivray, 1983; Robillard, Dekker, & Hulsey, 2002). Preeclampsia occurs as a consequence of abnormal invasion by the trophoblast in the uterine spiral arteries and endothelial cell dysfunction (Friedman, 1993), and as a consequence the fetus may not receive adequate nutrition resulting in growth retardation. Whereas all mammalian embryos undergo implantation shortly after conception, humans are the only mammalian species known to undergo a second phase of deep trophoblastic implantation at the end of the first trimester (Robillard et al., 2003). In normal development, this second stage of implantation provides for the modification of spiral arteries that result in an increase in the blood flow to the placenta. Preeclampsia is believed to be the result of a failure to achieve or to complete this second implantation phase (Robillard et al., 2003). It is clinically diagnosed by maternal hypertension and proteinuria. The hypertension results from cytotrophic factors that are released by the fetus and serve to increase the amount of blood flowing to the placenta (Haig, 1993).

It has been theorized that the origins of preeclampsia in humans are linked to the increase in cranial capacity associated with the genus Homo (Robillard et al., 2003). The greater nutritional needs of the developing brain in the human fetus, compared to the more modest needs of developing brains in species with lower cranial capacities, has been hypothesized to explain the second wave of implantation characteristic of humans.

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