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C. The Causes Of Toxemia During Pregnancy

Narrator: This is Science Today. Oxygen has been found to play a key role in the development of toxemia during pregnancy, a life threatening disease. Dr. Susan Fisher of the University of California, San Francisco says in the early stages, too much oxygen affects the growth of the placenta.

Fisher: The placenta responds to oxygen very differently than the fetus proper. These cells actually grow when they're deprived of oxygen. Normally cells don't grow.

Narrator: The placenta grows faster with low oxygen and the embryo has more time to implant, but if it this low level continues for too long, the attachment of the placenta will be faulty.

Fisher: What people would really like to be able to do is go back when placentation is occurring and being able to say yes, it happened correctly or no, it happened incorrectly. And our study gives them insights into how diagnostics might be designed to do that.

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