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B. Inflammatory Protein Strongly Linked to Heart Disease

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have discovered the earliest, molecular steps of pregnancy - when a human embryo attaches to the uterus. Dr. Susan Fisher, who led the research, says this discovery may help contribute to the understanding of the placental defects associated with preeclampsia, the most common cause of maternal death in developed countries.

Fisher: It's characterized by a sudden increase in maternal blood pressure, sudden onset of high blood pressure with no history in the women of high blood pressure episodes previously. Vascular damage and the fetus stops growing.

Narrator: Fisher's previous research has shown that the roots of preeclampsia lie very early in pregnancy, most related to faulty adhesion of the placenta to the uterine wall.

Fisher: So by discovering the earliest steps in placentation, we hope to be able to determine if defects in these early steps lead to faulty adhesion that we see later in preeclampsia.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.