Trying to conceive?

Trying to conceive?

UF Health researchers looking for soon-to-be pregnant study participants

By Morgan Sherburne

Are you looking to become pregnant and have some idea when that might happen? UF researchers need your help in solving a pregnancy mystery.

The mystery? How a hormone called relaxin impacts a woman’s chance of developing preeclampsia — a condition marked by high blood pressure — or delivering babies who are lower in weight, said Kirk P. Conrad, M.D., a professor in the College of Medicine’s departments of physiology and functional genomics and of obstetrics and gynecology.

When women become pregnant without medical assistance, their bodies produce a hormone called relaxin. The hormone spurs many physiological changes, including dilating the blood vessels in women’s skin, kidneys and heart. But when women become pregnant with medical assistance, or in vitro fertilization, the hormone is produced in a higher quantity — or sometimes not at all.

Conrad and his colleagues are halfway through a five-year National Institutes of Health grant that is funding their study of pregnancies conceived by assisted reproduction techniques.

Conrad is hoping to study women who get pregnant without medical assistance to establish a baseline against which they can compare women who become pregnant through medical assistance. Aside from blood tests, the study is noninvasive.

Women in the Gainesville and North Florida area who are planning to become pregnant and who are interested in being part of the study should call Kevin Bishop, ARNP, at 352-594-1583 or 877-506-2736 before going off birth control. Compensation of up to $250 for each visit is available for time and for some travel. — Morgan Sherburne