Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending February 14, 2021. 

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Neanderthal moms and babies

Living right along cavemen were cavewomen, only we don’t hear as much about them. A female skeleton found at Mount Carmel, in northern Israel, suggests that Neanderthal babies didn’t need to twist when they came out and that their heads emerged sideways instead of facing backwards. While this may mean that births could have been somewhat faster, with less risk of infants getting stuck, the babies’ longer skulls meant it was still a tight squeeze. Read more here.

This is important for you because isn’t “Sheanderthal” an amazing title for this piece?

Early antibiotic treatment makes for smaller baby boys, but not girls

A recently published study tracked the growth of babies who were given antibiotics during their first two weeks of life. At age six, boys who got antibiotics as neonates were smaller than those who didn’t, but the same didn’t hold true for girls. The researchers think the antibiotics induced this growth suppression by perturbing the composition of the baby boys’ microbiomes. Read more here.

This is important for you because antibiotics can be life saving and absolutely essential when combating bacterial infections; but they do have significant side effects, so should only been used when necessary. 

Twins: two bodies, one soul?

Some Yoruba, in Southwestern Nigeria, thought that twins shared a soul. Western cultures tend to encourage each twin to be their own person, so even identical twins–like the author of this essay–turn out almost diametrically opposed from each other. Read more here.

This is important for you because, as he writes, “Twins make for a fun existential thought experiment.”

Dad’s histones matter (in mice)

The DNA molecules that make up chromosomes are really long; in order for them to fit inside our cells, they must be tightly wound around proteins called histones. But histones don’t just provide passive structural support—they can actually impact if and how the genes encircling them are used. In mice, one specific type of histone that comes from the dad helps embryos grow properly. Read more here.

This is important for you because cells and development are just cool.
The most popular article on The Pulse this week was Weight Gain in Pregnancy. 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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