Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

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For the Week Ending June 3, 2018. 

Monitoring embryonic development

Scientists have traced the development of different cell lineages in zebrafish and frog embryos, tracing how one cell (the fertilized egg) can divide over time to generate all of the different cell types in a body over time. Read more here.

This is important for you because the way embryonic cells become specialized is one of the coolest things about development.

Serena is back

Serena Williams just won her first Grand Slam since her daughter was born – like eight months ago. Read more here.

This is important for you because there is no stopping her – or any mom!!

Legal Abortion in Ireland

Abortion had been illegal in Ireland until last Friday, when the population overwhelmingly voted to legalize it. Read more here.

This is important for you because women need to be in control of our reproductive choices in order to be full members of society. As access to abortion wanes in much of this country, it is heartening to see that women elsewhere are making progress.

Schizophrenia risk depends on conditions in the womb

A new analysis of genes that elevate the risk of schizophrenia found that they do so primarily if the mother had complications during her pregnancy. If the pregnancy went fine, most likely the risky genes will not deliver. These genes are heavily expressed in the placenta, especially the placenta of male fetuses, perhaps explaining why schizophrenia is more prevalent in men. Read more here.

This is important for you because although we know that genes and environment can both affect disease risk, they had been thought of as separate, non-interacting entities. Research like this indicates that the environment – including the uterine environment – affects how genetics play out.

Implicit bias can have very explicit negative effects

Black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes in this country, even after variables like socioeconomic and education are taken into account. It is that difficult to live as a black woman here, bearing the constant stress of racism and sexism. The medical establishment has started training doctors to recognize implicit bias – bias they’re not even aware they have – to try to fix the problem. Read more here.

This is important for you because everyone has implicit biases – it is fairly impossible not to, with the news and images we are constantly bombarded with. But recognizing it can prevent it from harming those around us.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week, by a lot, was The Benefits of Delaying Your Newborn Bathing. Skin-to-skin contact with mom immediately after birth fosters bonding, promotes breastfeeding, and keeps the baby warm in the air which is so much chillier than the womb. The World Health Organization thus recommends delaying baby’s first bath until at least six hours post-partum 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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