Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending October 9, 2022. 

COVID-19 Vaccines International Pregnancy Exposure Registry (C-VIPER)

More than 8,000 pregnant vaccinated women are already participating in our survey.

Help us understand the impact of COVID-19 vaccines on pregnancy and babies. Be a part of it!

Click here to Register

Breastfeed for TWO YEARS???!!!

Breastfeeding is good for you and your baby, and many health organizations encourage it for at least six months–and as long as two years. But it is only good for you and your baby if it works for your body and your lifestyle. For many mothers it does not, and that’s ok. Read more here.

This is important for you because breastfeed if you can, for however long it works for you.

Polygenic risk scores

Some new, unregulated genomic screening tests claim to tell parents–both those undergoing IVF and others– which embryos may be at risk of developing complex disorders, like cancers and mental illnesses, later in life. But these diseases aren’t caused by well known mutations in single genes; they are caused by complex interactions between many genes and environmental factors, some of which are known and predictable and others of which are not. So these polygenic risk scores may not be quite as informative, or helpful, as their makers claim. Read more here.

This is important for you because some geneticists are concerned that these tests do not “have adequate predictive power to significantly reduce disease risk for many conditions,” and “some specialists worry that thinking of embryos in terms of their health scores could increase the stigma around some conditions, especially those affecting mental health.”

Sperm as collective, not competitive, swimmers

The traditional view of sperm competing with each other, each racing to reach the egg first, is based on studies from two dimensional microscope slides. But studies done in a 3D context–like the one the sperm actually encounter in your body–suggest that sperm cells team up. The scientists who observed this behavior think this enables them to swim against the prevailing current. Read more here.

This is important for you because upending patriarchal narratives is important in every field.

2022 Lasker Award

Yuk Ming Dennis Lo just received a 2022 Lasker Award for discovering fetal DNA in maternal blood. This discovery allowed him to develop noninvasive prenatal testing for Down syndrome and other conditions. Read more here.

This is important for you because many Lasker winners go on to win Nobels.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was The Biology of Pregnancy Part 16: Beginning Your Final Month. 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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