Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

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For the Week Ending June 23, 2019. 

The birds and the bees

Everyone knows how babies are made. Well, every human. Other animals have a sex drive, and have sex, and procreate, but they don’t know the connection between these things. Only we do. And this knowledge – along with the corollary that we can trace how, and how closely, we are related to one another – is part of what makes humans unique. Read more here.

This is important for you because according to this argument, this “reproductive consciousness” – the ability to understand how paternity works, and therefore how people are related to one another – has shaped not only how we choose mates but how we structure societies, and thereby pretty much everything about human cultures.

Immunity as a double-edged sword

Women are much more likely than men to suffer from autoimmune diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and Type I diabetes. A new theory called the Pregnancy Compensation Hypothesis suggests that this may be because women’s immune systems evolved when women were pretty much always pregnant – i.e. harboring a foreign, potentially dangerous body – so had to be hypervigilant. Now, we’re not always pregnant, but are left with a hyperactive immune response. The good news is that this may also explain women’s lower rates of some cancers. Read more here.

This is important for you because it puts a whole new spin on that old hygiene hypothesis.

Oops-a-Daysy

The Daysy is a pricey thermometer that claims to be able to track fertile days with 99.4% accuracy. But it cannot. Read more here.

This is important for you for two reasons. First, tracking your temperature, is not, and never has been, an accurate and reliable way of tracking your fertility, regardless of how expensive the thermometer or how fancy and high tech the interface on the app. Secondly, there is no shortage of unethical companies touting pseudoscience and misinformation to prey on the fears and feelings of reproductive age women. Be savvy and beware.

Preemie Mozart

Preemies spend a lot of time in the NICU, which is a stressful place, with the constant bells, alarms, and buzzes. It is certainly more stressful than the quiet womb. Some Swiss researchers hypothesized that soothing music might help these preemies’ brains develop, and preliminary results indicate they might be right. Further studies tracking more preemies over a longer time will show if the effect is real. Read more here.

This is important for you because it is amazing that preemies can be born earlier than ever and fare better than ever, but they can still face deficits and can still need help to thrive.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week, by far, was When Will My Belly Show That I’m Pregnant? It depends. 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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