Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

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More C-sections -> more big babies?

For most of human history, if a baby’s head was too big to fit through the birth canal both mother and baby often died in childbirth. But now that there are C-sections, everyone is generally ok. Theoretical biologist Philip Mitterӧcker hypothesized that C-sections were lifting a selection pressure against big headed babies; since they now survive, when they used to not, they would now be able to pass on their bigheaded propensity on to their offspring. He found that mothers born via C-section were more likely to need C-sections when giving birth themselves, supporting his idea; but the data are very messy, and very preliminary, so while this is an intriguing idea it is hardly a foregone conclusion. Read more here.

This is important for you because if you were born via C-section, you may need to have one yourself. Or, of course, you may not.

Yes, you can – and should – eat fish. In moderation.

The FDA and EPA have teamed up to release a handy-dandy chart that lets pregnant and lactating women easily see which fish, and how much, are safe to eat. Almost 90% of the fish species commonly consumed in the US fall in the “best choices” category, meaning that it is ok to have up to three servings of them a week. See the chart here.

This is important for you because fish is a really healthy protein source for you and your baby. Eat as much as your doctor thinks is safe.

Iodine Therapy for Graves Disease is Safe While Nursing

Breastfeeding mothers with Graves disease sometimes need treatment with inorganic iodine in the form of potassium iodide, especially if they have adverse reactions to antithyroid drugs. Although the iodine is found in breast milk and the babies’ urine, a study in Japan suggests that this is not problematic for the nursing babies. Read more here.

This is important for you because if you have Graves disease and can’t tolerate antithyroid drugs, you can still safely nurse your baby.

It’s Still Really Bad in Puerto Rico

Hospital Metropolitano San Germán in Puerto Rico needs heparin, insulin, IV supplies, diabetic supplies, diapers, and other infant care products; a free walk-in clinic in Quebradillas needs medical personnel for temporary relief work. If you live in Miami, Los Angeles, or Phoenix please contact Pamela Young (pyoung3075@gmail.com), co-founder of the Association for Maternal Fetal Medicine Management (AMFMM), for specific details about where to drop off these goods to be sent down to Puerto Rico. If you do not live in these areas, but would still like to help, please consider donating products or money to B Strong and Delivering Good. For more information about these organizations, visit: http://www.delivering-good.org/BStrong.

This is important for you because no place is safe from climate disasters. Please help those in need – it can be our turn soon enough.

 “Ovarian Reserve” Might Not Be All It’s Cracked Up To Be

As women have delayed getting pregnant, fertility tests have sprung up to help them determine if they’ll have trouble conceiving as they age. These tests, which cost between $150 and $350, measure hormone levels in the blood and urine to determine how many eggs a woman has left in her body compared to other women her age. Although this intuitively seems like this should be a good predictor of how likely she is to get pregnant, the first study to examine if it actually does indicates that it does not correlate with eventual fertility at all. The best metric for determining how much trouble a woman will have conceiving is still her age. Read more here.

This is important for you because – well, if you’re pregnant already, it’s clearly not. But for the next one… be wary of savvy marketers.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was Understanding Your Baby’s Growth Charts, which compares each baby’s growth to those of other babies of the same age. The most important thing is that your baby maintains a consistent growth curve, not which percentile she falls into. 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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