Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending October 28, 2018. 

Mice with two moms are just fine

Researchers in China have used genetic manipulation to generate mice born from same sex parents. The pups that had two dads died shortly after birth; it is not yet clear why. The pups born from two moms, however, can go on to have their own babies. Reproduction without a male (parthenogenesis) is well known in lower order animals, but was thought to be impossible in placental mammals because of imprinting: the fact that although we have two copies of each gene, one from our mom and one from our dad, for some genes only one specific copy is used – either the maternal or the paternal one, depending on the gene. The fact that this was achieved in mice does not mean it is around the corner for humans – there are enormous ethical and technical barriers to overcome before that could happen. Read more here.

This is important for you because gene editing and stem cell technologies are advancing in China, where they are not as heavily regulated as they are here. This is important for everyone.

Development in real time

All that we know about embryonic development comes from snapshots of embryos taken at different time points. But a new type of microscope has allowed researchers to video a mouse embryo over the course of two days, watching cell migration and organ formation as it happens. Read more here.

This is important for you because cell migration is an essential part of embryonic development, and this tool will confirm whether a century’s worth of inferences on how it happens are correct.

Mail order abortions

Access to abortions is being severely curtailed in much of this country, especially in rural regions. But a Dutch doctor will mail abortion pills right to your home. She had previously only provided this service to women in countries where abortion is illegal, but has responded to the increasing need for her services she has seen in the US. She has been in operation since 1999, and her site provides reliable medical information. Read more here.

This is important for you because women’s ability to have productive, healthy lives and relationships relies on our ability to control our own bodies and reproductive choices. It is nice to know that should you need them, there are options to do so.

So many C-sections

The World Health Organization recommends that the C-section rate should be about 15 percent of births for optimal outcomes for mothers and babies. But in the United States, one out of three children are born through the procedure. Read (and listen) more here.

This is important for you because if you need a C-section for medical reasons, thank goodness it is available. If it is for your (or your doctor’s) convenience, you might want to reconsider.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was Ellie’s Pregnancy Journey Part 6: Finding Out Our Baby’s Gender. Spoiler alert: it’s a girl. 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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