Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending July 9, 2017.

Sperm have an expiration date too

Researchers at Harvard have concluded that the age of the male affects the outcome of IVF, with sperm from older men – those over thirty-five – having a lower success rate at achieving pregnancy than sperm from younger men. This contradicts conventional wisdom, which held that only the age of the woman and her eggs was relevant. The molecular mechanisms responsible for the effect have not been defined. Read more here.

This is important for you because it’s nice to know that men also have a ticking biological clock.

Racial health care disparities extend to newborns

In the US, health outcomes all too often hinge on factors like socioeconomic status and access to adequate health care. Race is often tied to these factors. A new report indicates that the recently touted reduction in infant mortality rates in the US applies only to white babies, widening the inequality in mortality rates between black and white newborns. Much of this is because black women do not get appropriate medical care before and during their pregnancies and births. Read more here.

This is important for you because it is one of many racial injustices in our society that must be combatted.

SIDS and serotonin

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, as its very name indicates, is sudden – we don’t know what causes it. But new work suggests that many babies who die of it have elevated levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in their blood. Serotonin regulates anxiety and mood; abnormal levels of the protein may indicate an underlying brain disorder that may put the babies at risk. This research is highly preliminary, however, so – intriguing as it is – not much can really be gleaned from it yet. Read more here.

This is important for you because it’s a good reminder to put your infant to sleep on her back, in a crib containing nothing but a firm mattress.

Cancer survivors are less likely to get pregnant

A study in Scotland indicates that women who have had cancer are a third less likely to get pregnant than those who have not. This is partially due to the nature of the treatments used to fight their illness, but could also be a conscious decision on their part. Read more here.

This is important for you because if you have had cancer, discuss the impact different treatment options may have on your later fertility with your doctor.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z name their twins

Beyoncé and Jay-Z, whose twins were born prematurely last month, have given them names: Rumi and Sir. Both are thought to reference the thirteenth century Sufi poet Jalal al-Din Rumi. Read more here.

This is important for you because, well, it isn’t. But fun to know anyway.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was Essentials for Diaper Changing Stations. In addition to the obvious diapers, wipes, and diaper cream, the author recommends a change of baby clothes, toys, and hand sanitizer. Read it here.

This is important for you because you’re going to be changing a lot of diapers. Best be prepared.

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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