Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending December 2, 2018. 

Everyone Deserves Dignity

Most prisoners in are not treated remarkably well. But women who are incarcerated – and especially mothers who are incarcerated – are treated remarkably poorly. Many are kept far away from their children, to the detriment of both. And women who give birth in prison are sometimes forced to do it while shackled. Dignity for Incarcerated Women works to change this harsh reality; read more here. You can also read the The Pulse blog Giving Birth In Jail here.

This is important for you because no one should have to give birth in chains.

No honey for your little honey

Honey is NOT SAFE for babies under one year old. Which is why it is somewhat perplexing that honey containing pacifiers are a thing… but they are. Four babies in Texas were hospitalized after contracting botulism, a rare but potentially fatal bacterial infection, from the sweet suckers. Read more here.

This is important for you because do not give babies pacifiers that are filled with anything.


If we’re going to colonize Mars any time soon, we’re going to have to procreate in conditions other than those on Earth. The only way we know anything about how the human body fares in space is by sending human bodies there, and no pregnant women or babies have ever been, so we don’t really know how they’ll do. Radiation and microgravity will likely wreak havoc on the pregnant woman, the developing embryo, the processes of labor and delivery, and the resulting infant. Preliminary work with rats indicates, though, that mammals might not even be able to get pregnant in space at all. Read (and listen) more here.  You can also read the The Pulse blog Pregnancy: A Big Unknown for Human Mars Colonization here.

This is important for you because…umm, not sure. But cool to think about.

Chinese Scientist Claims to Have Made Designer Babies, is Soundly Condemned by Everyone

Yes, unfortunately that is a real headline. A scientist in China claims that altered a gene in human embryos using the CRISPR-Cas9 enzyme to render them resistant to HIV infection. (Their father is HIV+, although this does not mean that they’d be at increased risk of infection.) He said that twin girls with the altered genomes were born a few weeks ago. His university, his hospital, his colleagues, and scientists around the world have all issued statements condemning the work. Read more here. You can also read the The Pulse blog Genome Editing: It’s Not Really About Designer Babies here.

This is important for you because unlike space babies, genetic editing is happening now, whether we want it or not. So all of society has to think through the implications.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week, by a lot, was Sharenting – How Much is Too Much Nowadays? While far flung grandparents may find Facebook photos of naked babies to be super cute, those babies will likely be none too amused when their potential employers find those same photos online in 25 years. Think carefully before you share pictures of your kids online. Read the piece 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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