Dr. Stephen J. Renaud

Dr. Stephen J. Renaud

Reducing the risk of pregnancy complications

How complications with the placenta can hurt development

Research is being conducted in London to prevent major complications in pregnancy, protecting Canadian mothers from sometimes life-threatening pregnancy risks.

The most common complications – like preeclampsia – are linked to numerous hereditary variables, making them difficult to anticipate. Instead, Children Health Research Institute member Steven Renaud is looking into the cause and development of pregnancy complications to better catch and treat them.

At first, the Queen’s University grad, studied trophoblast cells, an interface between the mother and the child. Those cells are often the root of pregnancy complications, Renaud said.

“Studying pregnancy complications was the focus of my graduate work,” Renaud said. “My postdoctoral work more directly focused on how the placenta develops under normal circumstances.”

Renaud received his PhD in Kingston, Ontario. He also studied at Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City before moving to London’s Western University where he works as an assistant professor in the anatomy and cell biology department.

He currently studies preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction. In developed countries those common complications can lead to medical emergencies; in less-developed countries they can spell death for the mother or the child.

Renaud’s work could have a wide-reaching impact, in other words. 

“Placental research in general is an enormous puzzle,” Renaud said. “People have made entire careers out of studying it, contributing pieces of the puzzle along the way.

“It’s an exciting time to be a placental researcher,” he added.

Learn more about Stephen Renaud’s work on placental development.