Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending October 5, 2018.  

Blood vessel stem cells

Blood vessels are formed by endothelial cells, the cell type that lines most tubes in the body. Researchers have shown – in cultured cells and mice, at least – that stem cells in fetal blood can mature into these endothelial cells, and thus can be used to generate blood vessels. If human embryos have these same stem cells, knowledge of how they work might ultimately used to help people with cardiovascular disease. Read more here.

This is important for you because the fact that researchers are still uncovering new things about fundamental processes like blood vessel formation can really heighten your appreciation for basic research.

Early Stage Investigators

Newly minted scientists – early stage investigators – are eligible for a special class of grants from the NIH for ten years after the end of their formal training. Since many scientists reach this point in their careers around the same time they want to start families the NIH has just extended the period in which these scientists can apply for grants by a full year if the scientist has had a baby.  Read more here.

This is important for you because it’s nice that at least one segment of the government is trying to accommodate mothers in the workforce.

“Human Childbirth is Not a Dilemma”

Part of evolutionary dogma is the “obstetric dilemma”: human babies are born before they are ready to fend for themselves because if they were to gestate long enough for their brains to develop more, they couldn’t fit through the narrow pelvises that allow human women to walk upright. Although this idea seems to make intuitive sense, there is little evidence to support it. Yet it is still used to justify interventions like C-sections that may not really be necessary. Read more here.

This is important for you because “proposing new ways of viewing human childbirth may lead to more better outcomes for both mothers and infants.”

The Remote Pregnancy Monitoring Challenge

Low-income women across the U.S. often face barriers in accessing pre- and post-natal care. So The Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), part of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), established the Remote Pregnancy Monitoring Challenge. The Challenge will award $375,000 in prizes to tech innovations that will help care providers remotely monitor the health and wellbeing of pregnant women, and also enable pregnant women to monitor their own health and make more informed lifestyle decisions. Read more here.

This is important for you because regardless of where you live or what your income, such technologies can make prenatal care more accessible and convenient for everyone.

The most popular articles on The Pulse this week were Pregnancy and Bipolar Disorder: A Difficult Balancing Act and Ellie’s Pregnancy Journey Part 3: Telling Our Families. 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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