Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending November 21, 2021. 

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.

Positional plagiocephaly and infant helmets

Plagiocephaly means flat head syndrome; positional plagiocephaly means flat head syndrome resulting from prolonged time in one position. Ever since pediatricians started recommending that babies sleep on their backs to avoid SIDS in the early 1990s, many infants have developed flat heads in the back. Helmets can be recommended to correct it, but it is not clear if the helmets work. Read more here.

This is important for you because put your baby to sleep on her back, and give her lots of tummy time when she’s awake to strengthen her neck muscles.

Male not required

Sooo… California condors in captivity don’t often breed, but it turns out that when they do, they can do it without males. This type of reproduction, called parthenogenesis, has been observed in birds and other vertebrates before, but it may be more common than scientists had suspected. Perhaps it can help mitigate severe population loss. Two birds born this way were recently identified; they were both male, and they were both kind of sickly, which seems pretty standard for babies born like this. Read more here.

This is important for you because it’s cool. But we can’t dispense with males just yet; parthenogenesis doesn’t work in mammals, since we need the paternal copy of certain genes.

Blood into eggs

Just as human males are necessary to make human babies, so are human females. But a company called Conception is trying to change that by investing in in vitro gametogenesis: the generation of gametes – in this case, egg cells – from adult cells. No one has not done this yet, although it has been done with mouse cells. They will first try to start with female blood cells, but hope to make egg cells from male adult cells one day. Read more here.

This is important for you because generating egg cells at will would change everything  we know about reproduction, for ill as well as for good.

The Infant’s Eyes

Bianca Stone perfectly captures what it feels like for new mothers to, for the first time, live their lives under their baby’s gaze. Read it here.

This is important for you because some things can best be conveyed through poetry.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters: A Discussion for Pregnant Women. 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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