Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending July 30, 2017.

Aunt Flo in the House

Some countries have a recognized menstrual leave, in which women can get days off from work if their cramps are unmanageable. Is this well-intentioned policy progressive, sensitive, and understanding? Or will it be used as a justification to continue paying women less, pathologize the normal process of menstruation, and reinforce antiquated ideas that all women are not fit for work because some women sometimes have terrible period pain? Read more here.

This is important for you because you’re a woman.

Antibiotics during pregnancy

A study just done in Canada suggests that quinolones, a particular class of broad-spectrum antibiotics, can cause birth defects if taken during the first trimester. Of course, the infections that these antibiotics treat can be dangerous to a growing fetus as well. This study provides more evidence that we need better targeted antibiotics that can counteract particular pathogens, rather than these broad-spectrum drugs that kill many bacteria indiscriminately. Read more here.

This is important for you because even if you don’t get an infection while pregnant (which hopefully you won’t), the rise of antibiotic resistance is going to be a problem for you and your children in the future if we don’t deal with it now.

Big night for everyone

Lots of babies are being born in Chicago right now… about nine months after the Cubs won the World Series. September is a perennially popular birthday month too… nine months after New Year’s Eve. You do the math. Read more here.

This is important for you because if you don’t want your child to have birthday party conflicts with the whole class, maybe celebrate big events a little differently than everyone else does – or at least a little later.

 

CRISPR babies

CRISPR is the most precise gene editing technology developed to date. Like all previous such technologies, its potential for gene therapy, to fix faulty genes and prevent disease, is tantalizing; but the specter of bad guys using it to make “designer babies” always hovers nearby. CRISPR has already been used in human embryos in China, but this type of work only became legal in the US in February. Now, a group in Oregon has used CRISPR to fix defective genes in human embryos. The embryos were not implanted, so cannot become babies, and the work is yet unpublished. Read more here.

This is important for you because gene technology has long held amazing therapeutic promise, and provides a good lens for thinking about the limits of technology and its potential impact on society.

Treatment in infancy yields HIV remission

An HIV+ baby born in South Africa nine years ago was given a short course of treatment at birth and is still healthy, despite still harboring the virus. This is the third such child known to science, and researchers hope that they will be able to figure out how the remission is achieved so they can spare others life-long drug regimens. Read more here.

This is important for you because HIV has been a worldwide public health scourge for decades. Achieving remission with a single course of drugs would be a pretty big deal.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was Signs of Preterm Labor You Should Not Ignore. Much like with full term labor, these signs include contractions, vaginal discharge, pressure on your pelvis, cramps, and maybe even diarrhea. Preterm labor is defined as labor before 37 weeks of gestation. Read it 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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