Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the week ending on February 5, 2017

Weekly DigestGirl Power

Picture a lone genius making a world altering discovery. Is it Einstein, with his crazy hair standing on end? Louis Pasteur, gazing at a Petri dish containing penicillin generating mold? Rene Descartes, with numbers and planes spinning in his head? Socrates, about to drink hemlock and die for his beliefs? Regardless of who you pictured, he was probably male. Girls as young as six internalize gender stereotypes; they are more likely to ascribe brilliance to men than to women, and go on to underestimate their own capabilities. Read more here; then learn about books and toys that encourage girls to pursue STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) fields if that is their passion.

This is important for you because, even if you do not have a daughter, you are woman. Hear you roar!

Weekly DigestProbiotics

Human bodies are comprised of more bacterial cells than human cells. We need these bacterial partners, collectively termed our microbiome, to help us with essential biological processes like digesting food and mounting immune responses. They primarily live in our guts and on our skin, but the birth canal is filled with these vital bacteria as well. As babies traverse this passage on their way into the outside world, it was assumed that they are colonized with the distinct species of bacteria that their moms’ have. A new study has just confirmed that this is in fact the case. Read more about mothers’ and babies’ microbiomes here.

This is important for you because your choice of vaginal or c-section birth and of breast milk or formula feeding can impact your baby’s microbiome and health later in life.

Weekly DigestTake advantage of your maternity leave, if you can get it!

No more women are taking maternity leave – either paid or unpaid – than did twenty years ago. The number of men taking paternity leave, however, has tripled during this time span. Perhaps this is because only about half of the women who took leave were paid, but most of the men (70%) were. Read more here.

This is important for you because if your employer offers paid leave, this is invaluable time for you to take to bond with your baby and take care of yourself. If not – push for it.

Weekly DigestSmart baby monitors are actually not that smart

Of course, there are apps connected to sensors in babies’ clothes and diapers that measure the baby’s heart rate, respiration, and blood oxygen saturation and send the information right to a smart phone (read the medical futurist article about this topic here). Perfect for millennial parents, right? Not so fast, says an article published last week in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association. These devices merely play on the fears of new parents, the authors state, and may induce panic by mistakenly indicating problems in perfectly healthy infants. Read more here.

This is important for you because, as tech-minded as you may be, you do not need your phone to keep track of your healthy infants every breath and heartbeat. Your eyes, ears, and common sense are generally all you need!

Weekly DigestThis one is too big, and this one is too small…

The tail ends of bell curves tend to be considered outliers, and population growth charts are no exception. The cutoffs have traditionally been that babies with birth weights lower than the tenth percentile or greater than the ninetieth are at risk for a variety of issues. A new study suggests that this “at risk” category be broadened to babies below the twenty fifth percentile or above the eighty-fifth in weight. Read more here.

This is important for you because, if your baby’s weight falls in these outlying areas, your doctor should know of the new guidelines and take special care.

Weekly Digest

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was Pregnancy Pregnancy Cravings: Myth or Fact. As you know, these are real – nothing mythical about them. However, their cause remains unknown. Read the original piece here.

This is important for you because, regardless of what you crave – honor it! As long as it is not alcohol or something else that might pose a danger to you or your baby. This is one of the few times in your life you will have this leeway, so make the most of it.

Diana Gitig
Dr. Diana Gitig has a Ph.D. in cell biology and genetics from Cornell University, and has been writing about issues in biology – from molecular biology to cancer to immunology to neuroscience to nutrition to agriculture - for the past fifteen years. She has three teenaged children.

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