Scientists’ New ‘Human Placenta Project’ Aims to Improve Health of Moms and Their Children


The placenta sustains us at the earliest phase of our development and shapes the adults we’ll eventually become. And yet it’s the least understood, and least studied, of all human organs. At the National Institutes of Health, we’re planning a new initiative to learn more about the placenta, in hopes of better health for mothers and their children–not just in pregnancy, but long after.

A chief goal of this initiative is to develop tools for studying the placenta in real time, so we can learn how a placenta develops normally. With that knowledge, we could do a better job of monitoring pregnancies and detecting placental problems earlier. Ultimately, we may be able to identify markers that predict many adverse pregnancy outcomes and take steps to prevent them.

Our first steps are to apply new approaches and attract more scientists to the field.

A Remarkable, but Neglected, Organ

“The placenta is really the Rodney Dangerfield of organs. It just doesn’t get respect. It gets thrown out at the end of the pregnancy. I mean, when you think about it, what other organ does its job effectively, grows when it’s supposed to grow, provides the nutrients it’s supposed to provide, and yet it knows when —> Read More Here


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