WEDNESDAY, July 22, 2020 (HealthDay News)

A genetic variant that acts as a natural painkiller may explain why some women don’t require ache relief during birth, say the researchers.

The level of ache and discomfort experienced during birth varies widely, so researchers from the University of Cambridge in England decided to investigate why some women have less ache during work and delivery.

“It is unusual for women not to ask gas and air, or epidural for ache relief during hard and tiring work, particularly when it delivers for the first time, “said co-responsible author Dr. Michael Lee, pain medicine consultant in the Anesthesia Division.

“When we tested these women, it was clear that their pain threshold was generally much higher than it was for other women,” she said in a university news release.

Lee and her colleagues rated women who did not require any pain relief during a simple vaginal birth of their first child. To test the pain threshold, the researchers applied heat and pressure to the arms and dipped their hands in the icy water.

Compared to a control group of women who needed pain relief during childbirth, the women in the test group had greater tolerance to pain from heat, cold and mechanical pressure.

There were no differences in the emotional and thinking skills of the groups, which suggests a difference in their ability to detect pain.

Genetic tests on both groups of women found that those in the test group had a higher than expected event of a rare variant of the KCNG4 gene. About 1 in 100 women have this variant.

This variant limits the ability of nerve cells to send pain signals to the brain, according to the authors of the study published in the journal July 21 Cellular relationships.

“The genetic variant that we found in women who experience less pain during birth leads to a “defect” in the formation of the switch on nerve cells. In fact, this flaw acts like a natural epidural, “said Ewan St. John Smith, senior co-author of the study, group leader in the Department of Pharmacology.

“It means that it requires a much bigger signal – in other words, stronger contractions during hard and tiring work – to turn it on. This makes pain signals less likely to reach the brain, “Smith said in the statement.

The researchers said they hoped the discovery would lead to the development of new ones drugs manage pain.

“This approach to the study of individuals who show unexpected extremes of the pain experience can also find a wider application in other contexts, helping us understand how we experience pain and develop new drugs to cure it, “said senior co-author David Menon, head of the Division of Anesthesia.

– Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Cambridge University, press release, 21 July 2020


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