Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending August 6, 2017.

Declining sperm counts

A recent meta-analysis of over a hundred previous studies indicates that sperm counts among men in the west have more than halved in the past forty years. Nobody seems to know why, or what to do about it. Read more here.

This is important for you because, well, if you’re pregnant already, it’s probably not. But it does not bode well for couples who delay childbearing, since women’s fertility declines with age.

Smart poop, dumb poop

Is there anything the microbiome has not been linked to, or claimed to be responsible for? The latest is that the contents of fecal samples from one year olds correlated with their cognitive abilities a year later, with particular species of bacteria in their diapers linked to their performance on tests. No one is saying the bacteria make them smarter; at this point, it is just an association. Read more here.

This is important for you because although we still don’t know exactly how, or how we should, control our (and our babies’) microbiome – be aware of it. Breastfeeding is really good if you can.

So much for the PDA

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was passed by Congress almost 40 years ago to ensure that employers made accommodations to let pregnant women keep their jobs, even if their abilities were slightly and temporarily impaired (i.e. they couldn’t life heavy loads). Unfortunately, it is not always applied properly. A pregnant nurse in Louisiana lost her job for just this reason – and this week, she finally got her day in court. Read more here.

This is important for you because, actually, that should be fairly obvious.

Get a flu shot!

Flu shots during pregnancy protect you and your newborn, regardless if you have ever had a previous flu shot or not. It had been thought that a second vaccination (a year after the first one) might not be as effective, but that was just found not to be the case. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both recommend that all pregnant women get the inactivated quadrivalent (four-strain) flu vaccine. Read more here.

This is important for you because it is more reinforcement – as if that was required – that you need to get a flu shot.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was Best Food Habits for Breastfeeding Mothers. Much like when pregnant, eat a balanced, healthy diet, don’t stress out too much about your weight, and take a multivitamin. 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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