Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

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For the Week Ending May 5, 2019. 

A folic acid a day may keep gestational diabetes away

Folic acid  is the synthetic form of folate, or vitamin B9, which is found in leafy green vegetables, nuts, peas, and beans. Wheat flour and other cereal grains are fortified with folic acid in the US, and women of reproductive age have long been recommended to get 400 to 800 micrograms to reduce the risk of conceiving a child with a neural tube defect. A new analysis of data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, a long-term study of diet, lifestyle factors, and disease outcomes among female nurses, suggests that the supplement may reduce the risk of gestational diabetes as well. Read more here.

This is important for you because this nutrient, long recognized to be important for the fetus developing inside you, has now been shown to be important for your health as well. Make sure you’re getting enough.

No one is killing babies

So… at a rally last week, our president apparently told his assembled supporters that it is legal for doctors to “execute” babies after they are born. Just to be clear, this is NOT TRUE and does NOT HAPPEN. Read more here.

This is important for you because access to safe abortions is an essential part of womens’ care and health, and panicked misinformation like this can lead our government to limit it. This will be fatal to individual women and to the progress of all women in society.

He’ll be tall like his mom

Stature is one of those traits that clearly have a heritable component, but it has been devilishly difficult to identify the gene(s) responsible for transmitting it. It had been thought that hundreds  of common gene variants each contributed a little bit, but new work suggests that rare variants are responsible. Read more here.

This is important for you because it’s amazing that for all we know about heredity, and even with human genome sequences in hand, there are still new mechanisms of genetic regulation to be discovered.

Why Dissent Matters by William Kaplan

This upcoming book tells the story of Dr. Frances Kelsey, the medical reviewer at the FDA who blocked the sale of thalidomide in the US in 1960 and thereby prevented untold suffering. She had been on the job for only a month, and had to fight higher ups at the FDA as well as those at Chemie Grünenthal, the German pharmaceuticals giant that manufactured thalidomide. Thank goodness she persevered. Read more here.

This is important for you because “The thalidomide tragedy was averted in the United States because Dr. Kelsey, alone and in the face of fierce opposition, did her job… Maybe someone else would have stopped thalidomide in the United States had Dr. Kelsey not been assigned the NDA, but, interestingly, no one else stopped it anywhere else until it was too late. Dr. Kelsey was the only person in the entire world who said no.”

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was Sex During Pregnancy. Just like sex not during pregnancy, the cardinal rule is if it feels good, and you (and your partner) want it, go for it! 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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