Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

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For the Week Ending June 28, 2020. 

Join the Registry to help other women who are pregnant or
contemplating becoming pregnant and who are or may be infected
with SARS-CoV-2, the virus the causes COVID-19.

A collaboration of Pregistry and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Click here to Register.

Ordinary Insanity

Thankfully, much of the secrecy and taboo surrounding postpartum depression has waned. In her second book on motherhood, Ordinary Insanity: Fear and the Silent Crisis of Motherhood in America, Sarah Menkedick discusses a less-well-known postpartum issue: anxiety and even fear. Read more here.

This is important for you because if you are grappling with anxiety–and it is difficult not to during a pandemic–YOU CAN GET HELP.

NY Child Care Expansion Incentive

$65 million in federal CARES Act funding will be made available for child care providers through the New York Forward Child Care Expansion Incentive program. It aims to help bring closed programs back into operation in order to serve families as parents return to the workplace. Read more here.

This is important for you because as offices open before camps and schools do, childcare is going to become indispensable.

Throwing the race to the finish line

Which sperm cell ends up fertilizing the egg may not just be a matter of chance. New work suggests that rather than just waiting passively for the first sperm to show up, the egg emits chemical signals that can preferentially spur specific sperm cells to swim faster, upping their chances of being the one that succeeds at fertilization. Eggs choose sperm cells that have immune genes complementary to the ones the eggs have, giving the resulting fetus the ability to fend off a more diverse set of pathogens. Read more here.

This is important for you because although you may have chosen your partner for his cute crooked smile, your egg is more interested in his Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) genes.

Artificial embryos

Scientists need model systems to experiment on and observe how complex systems work, and what happens when they go wrong. So scientists in Europe have made a gastruloid–a structure made of human stem cells that mimics a human embryo after about three weeks of gestation. A lot is going on in the embryo at this stage; this is when cells start to differentiate and a plan for where the body parts are eventually going to be starts to form. But scientists have never seen human embryos at this point, because most countries don’t allow the growth of human embryos in the lab for more than two weeks. These gastruloids can’t yet form a brain, and only survive for about four days. Read more here.

This is important for you because if these artificial structures develop beating hearts, is it more ethical to study them than human embryos? How about rudimentary brains? When do they become human?

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was COVID Toes and the Pregnant Woman. 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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