Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending June 11, 2017.

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Cosmic sperm works (for mice)

In August 2013, Japanese researchers sent samples of mouse sperm to the international space station. It stayed up there for about ten months, where it – like the astronauts aboard – are exposed to cosmic radiation about 100 times stronger than that on Earth. The sperm sustained some DNA damage, but even so, was able to generate healthy mouse pups and even healthy grand-pups. As cool as these space mice are, though, their relevance for the ability of humans to reproduce in space is questionable. Read more here.

This is important for you because, as tempting as zero gravity seems when you’re lugging around a big belly, pregnancy in space does not seem to be quite figured out yet.

Placenta pills are probably no panacea

There are those who purport that eating your placenta after delivering it can promote milk production and help balance levels of hormones and iron. Most mammals engage in the practice. However, little research has been done to confirm these claims. Read more here.

This is important for you because if you are considering ingesting your placenta, you might want to just look into the preparation a bit to make sure there are no risks.

Burroughs Wellcome Fund instigates Preterm Birth Initiative

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has just granted $600,000 over a four-year period to five interdisciplinary research teams to examine what causes preterm birth, defined as babies born before 37 weeks. Read more here.

This is important for you because more research into the processes surrounding birth benefits everyone.

High rates of US maternal mortality are primarily due to poverty and health care

U.S. maternal mortality is so high not because of medical errors, but because of poverty and its concomitant lack of access to health care facilities and providers. More American mothers are dying in childbirth than in other developed countries, and even more distressingly, we are one of the only developed countries in which the maternal death rate is rising instead of falling. Read more here.

This is important for you because – although dying in childbirth is still exceedingly rare, so don’t panic – changing health care policy can drastically affect maternal mortality in this country, and not for the better.


There were two equally popular articles on The Pulse this week: When to Give Your Baby Solid Food and Tips to Hire the Right Babysitter. Current thinking on the former says at about six months; and as to the latter, the most important is to trust your instincts. Read them here and here.

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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