Portsmouth university team looks into babies’ heart defects

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BABIES’ heart defects could have origins early in pregnancy.

Findings published in journal PLOS ONE are the first to show how cells at early stages of development migrate and give rise to different parts of the heart.

The research was carried out by biologists at the Universities of Portsmouth and East Anglia and 
was funded by the British Heart Foundation.

Dr Susanne Dietrich, of the University of Portsmouth’s Department of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, and colleagues at UEA investigated chick embryos, between 12 and 14 hours after the eggs were laid.

Dr Dietrich said: ‘We found that some cells migrate into the area that forms the heart early, and these cells set up a primitive pump.

‘But there are cells that arrive later, and they ensure that the fully functional four-chambered hearts develops.’