Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the week ending April 2, 2017.

Breast feeding may alleviate hyperactivity

It has been claimed that breast feeding a baby can boost his cognitive abilities. A new study of 8,000 children done in Ireland maintains that that is not the case – that any cognitive effects previously attributed to breastfeeding were actually due to confounding factors, like that women in the developed world who breastfeed their babies tend to have higher levels of education. This study tried to eliminate all of those socioeconomic factors to isolate the effect that breastfeeding has on children, and found that kids who were breastfed until they were at least six months old were less hyperactive at age three than their bottle fed peers. Their relative calmness disappeared by age five, though, when the kids started school. The positive effects that breastfeeding has on the baby’s immune system, on the mother’s future health, and on the invaluable mother-child bonding it provides were never in dispute. Read more here.

This is important for you because it’s nice to think that the soothing effect of nursing a baby can last beyond that actual moment in the rocker – that he’ll be able to access it even when he’s three.

Health insurance allows IVF

Perhaps the least surprising finding reported this week is that women whose health insurance covers IVF are more likely to use the procedure and have babies. Yet only fifteen states mandate coverage for infertility, and only five mandate it for IVF specifically. A single procedure, which is not always successful, can cost around $15,000. Women who have to pay for it themselves are less likely to return if the first try doesn’t work. Read more here.

This is important for you because if you are among the ten percent of American women that has had to grapple with infertility issues, make sure you know your financial options and limitations.

Free baby box!

Children notoriously prefer to play with the cardboard box holding their expensive new birthday presents rather than the toys themselves. The age range for that preference has just dropped – to zero months old. Finland has long given parents a cardboard box to use as a bassinet when they left the hospital (see our article about it here), and now New Jersey, Ohio, and Alabama have followed suit. The boxes come filled with newborn essentials like diapers and wipes, and are intended to reduce infant mortality rates by providing a safe sleeping environment for the baby. Read more here.

This is important for you because even if you don’t have a spiffy new cardboard box, remember to put your newborn to sleep on her back in an empty crib with a firm mattress to prevent SIDS.

Planned Parenthood infiltrators can’t show their tapes

In California, two anti- abortion activists entered Planned Parenthood under false names and with false credential to try to film themselves buying fetal tissue. They did not – Planned Parenthood does not sell fetal tissue – and now a federal appeals court has maintained that they cannot publicize their film, as it violates the privacy of the health workers on it. Read more here.

This is important for you because while you revel in having this baby, don’t take your right to choose for granted.

The afterbirth is not an afterthought

The placenta is the organ that intermediates between mother and fetus, passing nutrients from you to your baby and taking away his waste products while making sure that the two of you can exist in immunologic harmony. But like any other organ it is not monolithic; it is comprised of specialized cells, each with different functions. These were just elucidated in a study that looked at which genes were expressed in the different cell types. Read more here.

This is important for you because regardless of whether you eat it, plant it under a rosebush, or discard your placenta, it represents just one of the evolutionarily amazing aspects of pregnancy and childbirth.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was Could My Crying Baby Be Hungry Again? The bottom line seems to be “If there are plenty of wet diapers and the baby is gaining 4-7 ounces a week, your pediatrician may be able to confirm that you’re feeding the baby enough.” If your baby is gaining weight and you are making enough milk the crying could mean that your baby has gas pain or just wants to be held. Read more here.

This is important for you because baby’s cries are intended to be heartbreaking and hard to ignore, and it is really hard to tell what a baby’s cry means. If your baby is gaining adequate weight so you know she is eating enough, she just might need to be rocked and cuddles like she was in utero.

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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