Prenatal period and delivery

Seppo Heinonen and his study group evaluate perinatal and genetic epidemiology, and also risk factors and markers for most common obstetrical and perinatal complications, and how these factors have an effect on the perinatal outcome s. The scientific interests of the group have shown a variety from clinical perinatology to experimental studies, from genetic epidemiology and background of diseases to gene therapy. Considering the research interests, it has mainly focused in an area between obstetrics and gynecology. International collaboration of the group includes PREBIC, which is a WHO-related research umbrella focusing on the etiology and epidemiology of preterm birth, and HY-immunity in recurrent miscarriages, a project looking at immunological aspects of recurrent miscarriage and a variety obstetric complications. The focus of the research is now shifting from genetics and molecular biology and from experimental research to clinically oriented research and genetic epidemiology. To this aim, the Kuopio Birth Cohort (KuBiCo) has started few years ago and will probably be active and functional over the years and even decades to come in terms of the collection of the children’s follow up data. The aim is to study the effects of prenatal exposure to child’s subsequent health by collecting data on different prenatal exposures and combining these data to the information available on child’s subsequent health.

Seppo Heinonen, Prof and Chair, Dept of OB/Gyn
University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital

Seppo Heinonen and Leea Keski-Nisula: Pregnancy is important time period for expecting mother and her unborn children in terms of forthcoming health. The future health of the offspring is strongly programmed already in utero during pregnancy. However, we still know poorly these early effects, and thus perinatal and prenatal periods are under eager investigations. We have collected data in birth register database in Kuopio University Hospital systematically from 1989, which is quite early and extraordinary when comparing other Finnish Birth hospitals. Birth register database has been actively used in various researches as well as has been in daily usage in practical clinical work. Dr. Kaisa Raatikainen did her Doctoral Dissertation from Birth Register Database (Kaisa Raatikainen: Health Behavioural and Social Risks in Obstetrics), but also many other publications (Leena Georgiadis and Maija Harju) and study reports (medical students) are published. More than ten years we have done research collaboration with National Institute for Health and Wellfare to evaluate different prenatal and perinatal environmental risk factors for future health of the offspring; the main interest in these studies has been to study the effect of early environmental factors in the development of allergies, atopy and asthma (PASTURE- and LUKAS-studies). In our own works we have observed how perinatal factors play a significant role in the development of asthma among offspring later. In KuBiCo-cohort our main aim is to obtain large and affluent database of 10 000 mothers and their children to study protective prenatal effects in the future health of the mother, but also offspring.

Seppo Heinonen, professor
Leea Keski-Nisula, docent
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Kuopio University Hospital


  • Georgiadis L, Keski-Nisula L, Harju M, Räisänen S, Georgiadis S, Hannila ML, Heinonen S.Umbilical cord length in singleton gestations: A Finnish population-based retrospective register study. Placenta. 2014 Feb 11. Harju M, Keski-Nisula L, Raatikainen K, Pekkanen J, Heinonen S. Maternal fecundity and asthma among offspring-is the risk programmed preconceptionally? Retrospective observational study. Fertil Steril. 2013:99(3):761-767.
  • Harju M, Keski-Nisula L,Georgiadis L, Räisänen S, Gissler M, Heinonen S. The burden of childhood asthma and late preterm and early term births. J Pediatr. 2014 Feb;164(2):295-299.
  • Keski-Nisula L, Putus T, Pekkanen J. Umbilical artery pH values at birth and risk of asthma at 5 to 6 years of age. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol. 2012;22(1):48-54.
  • Keski-Nisula L, Lappalainen MH, Mustonen K, Hirvonen MR, Pfefferle PI, Renz H, Pekkanen J, Roponen M. Production of interleukin-5, -10 and interferon-γ in cord blood is strongly associated with the season of birth. Clin Exp Allergy. 2010;40(11):1658-68.Keski-Nisula L, Karvonen A, Pfefferle PI, Renz H, Büchele G, Pekkanen J. Birth-related factors and doctor-diagnosed wheezing and allergic sensitization in early childhood. Allergy. 2010;65(9):1116-25.
  • Raatikainen K: Health behavioural and social risks in obstetrics: Effect on pregnancy outcome (Terveyskäyttäytymisen ja sosiaalisten riskien vaikutus raskauden ennusteeseen). Väitöskirja, Kuopion yliopiston julkaisuja 2007.
  • Räisänen S, Georgiadis L, Harju M, Keski-Nisula L, Heinonen S. Risk factors and adverse pregnancy outcomes among births affected by velamentous umbilical cord insertion: a retrospective population-based register study. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2012;165(2):231-4.
  • Räisänen S, Sokka A, Georgiadis L, Harju M, Gissler M, Keski-Nisula L, Kälviäinen R, Heinonen S. Infertility treatment and umbilical cord length-novel markers of childhood epilepsy? PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55394.