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Erika F. Werner

and Errol R. Norwitz

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date: 19 May 2022

Labour is the physiological process by which the products of conception are passed from the uterus to the outside world. Timely onset is the key determinant of perinatal outcome. Although all viviparous animals share this process, the molecular and cellular mechanisms appear to differ in humans. Most animal models have demonstrated that the fetus is in control of the timing of labour. However, the parturition cascade in humans appears to be autocrine/paracrine in nature, thus precluding direct investigation. This chapter summarizes the current knowledge on the biological mechanisms responsible for the onset of labour at term in the human, as well as reviewing the limited treatment options when these mechanisms falter.

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