Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the week ending on January 15, 2017.

Weekly DigestYes, you can breastfeed in church!

“The ceremony is a little long, someone’s crying because he’s hungry. That’s the way it is,” said Pope Francis while celebrating the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the Sistine Chapel last Sunday. “You mothers, go ahead and breastfeed, without fear…” he added. It is not the first time the Pope has condoned nursing during services and in other public places. Read more here.

This is important for you because it is an important message when the leader of the world’s largest religion advocates breastfeeding, even during a religious ceremony.

Weekly DigestTaking antacids during pregnancy is associated with asthma in children

Asthma, like any immune disorders, has increased dramatically in modern times. A new British meta-analysis – a compilation of a number previously performed studies – has found that children whose mothers were prescribed medication for acid reflux (heartburn) during pregnancy were more likely to be treated for asthma. The authors note, however, that it is not at all clear that the antacids caused the asthma; it is possible that the heartburn itself did, or that an independent factor caused both heartburn in the mother and asthma in the child. Read more here.

This is important for you because heartburn is very common during pregnancy. Ask your doctor for the best way to treat it.

Weekly DigestShould pregnant women be included in clinical trials?

It has long been considered unethical to include pregnant women in clinical trials, since we don’t know what effect the experimental drug may have on the developing baby. But three experts in bioethics are challenging that conventional wisdom. Women with conditions ranging from depression to Crohn’s disease to sickle cell anemia rely on medications to maintain their health on a daily basis. When they get pregnant, they need to know if these necessary medications are safe for them and their babies. If no studies are conducted on the safety of these medications during pregnancy, that information will not be available for mothers and doctors. Read a fascinating review of this topic here.

This is important for you because about 75% of pregnant women need to take at least one prescription medication during pregnancy. It is important to know if the medication is safe or not during pregnancy. Pregistry endorses the collection of data to help prescribers and pregnant women make informed decisions.

Weekly DigestData from a 1970’s study on morning sickness drugs just got published!

Some clinical trials are never published for a variety of reason and doctors never know that they were even conducted. However, the results of a study done in the 1970’s to compare morning sickness drugs were just published this month! None of the drugs – including Diclegis, the only drug that the FDA has approved to treat morning sickness – see to pose a risk to mother or fetus. Read more about it here and learn about the efforts to make all clinical trial data publicly available here.

This is important for you because, as a consumer, you care that regulators have access to all the data before a decision to approve a medication is made.

Weekly DigestThree parent babies may not be as safe as was hoped

People get half of their genes from their mother and the other half from their father. These genes reside in the cell’s nucleus. But, there is another set of genes in the cell’s mitochondria – introduced in many fifth grade classes as the “powerhouse of the cell” because of its role generating energy from the food we eat. All of these mitochondrial genes come from the mother. Mutations in mitochondrial genes can cause diseases, and doctors in the UK are trying to treat these diseases by replacing the problematic mitochondria with a healthy one from a third person – neither the mother nor the father! However, experts warn that the baby can still be susceptible to mitochondrial diseases. Read more about this amazing new technology and its ramifications here.

This is important for you because genome editing is rapidly becoming part of our world (see a The Pulse article about this here) and, while neither you nor your baby may need mitochondrial gene replacement, it is nice to remain abreast of developments in this constantly evolving field.

Weekly DigestBaby Sleep Safety: Do’s and Don’ts

The most popular post in The Pulse this week reviews the current thinking on the safest sleep habits for babies to avoid SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome): they should be on their backs, alone, on a firm mattress,  in cool room close but not too close to the mom. Read it here.

This is important for you because SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) may be preventable with some simple choices.

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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