Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending March 24, 2019. 

Postpartum Help

The FDA has just approved the first drug for postpartum depression. It is given as an IV infusion over 60 hours, and can start working within 24 hours afterwards. Until now, these women had been prescribed antidepressants that could take weeks to work and did not take their hormonal status into account. Read more here.

This is important for you because postpartum depression is common and debilitating. If you or someone you know is suffering, this dedicated treatment might help and may pave the way for further therapies.

Ignorance is bliss

Huntington’s disease is caused by mutations in a single gene, so it is easy to test for. But there is no cure for the neurodegenerative condition, so many people at genetic risk choose not to get tested; they don’t want to know. Even so, these people can undergo IVF and select only healthy embryos to implant. So even if they don’t know if this scourge awaits in their future, they know it does not await in their children’s future. But the procedure is controversial, since it involves doctors’ keeping medical information from their patients. Although the patients have consented, maintaining the secrecy can lead to sticky situations. Read more about this fascinating development here.

This is important for you because even if it’s not relevant, this nondisclosure preimplantation genetic testing for monogenic disorders (PGT-M) is certainly an interesting model for dealing with genetic information.

Flu shots are safe

Flu shots – like other vaccines – are safe. Even while pregnant. Get one. Read more here.

This is important for you because you should get vaccines as recommended, and so should your baby.

CRISPR regulation

An advisory panel convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that the body create a registry of researchers who intend to edit the human genome, and condemns editing the DNA of germ cells (sperm and eggs). It will offer a complete report to the WHO in a year and a half. Read more here.

This is important for you because it seems like a good middle ground, for now – not banning potentially life saving research, but treading very cautiously in terms of making heritable mutations.

The most popular articles on The Pulse this week were Mom Jobs and Mommy Makeovers: When, How, and Why and Breastfeeding through Pregnancy and Beyond. 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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