Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the week ending on January 8, 2017.

Pregnancy Weekly NewsWould you wear a monitor to track your contractions?

The company Bloomlife recently released a digital pregnancy wearable intended to help women track the frequency and duration of their contractions on Android phones. The company states that in the near future it will also track the baby’s movements, heart rate, and position, and even the mother’s stress levels. The device does not come cheap: the rent is $149 for the first month, $100 for the second, and $50 for subsequent months. Additionally, the device does not have FDA certification yet. Read the San Francisco Chronicle’s article about it here.

This is important for you because if you are technologically minded, you may appreciate this enhancement of the signs your pregnant body is sending you. However, it is pricey.

Pregnancy Weekly NewsThe Pill won’t kill your libido

Rumors have been rampant that birth control pills can squander your sex drive. This makes sense, since they contain the hormones known to be involved in sexuality. However, previous studies have been inconclusive due to poor design and their results were ambiguous. A new study of 900 women using different types of birth control suggests that the status of your relationship affects your libido more than the method of contraception you use. Only heterosexual women were included in this work. Read more here.

This is important for you because, although it may seem astonishing, right before and right after giving birth, sex – and birth control – are going to become very important parts of your life again, very soon!

Pregnancy Weekly NewsSecondhand smoke is harmful, even before conception

Essential brain development occurs in the womb which, of course, is a baby’s first environment. However, if that environment is poor before conception, the proper connections in the baby’s brain may not be correctly made, affecting the baby’s later learning ability, memory, and emotional responses after birth. This is the finding of a recent study in rats. However, it is consistent with a large body of research indicating that a woman’s health and status before she gets pregnant can impact her baby’s neural development. Read about this study here.

This is important for you because it shows that being healthy before you become pregnant may be as important as during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Weekly NewsFish oil may reduce asthma

The incidence of asthma, along with many other immune disorders, has risen dramatically in modern times. Now, a study in Denmark has demonstrated that babies born to women who took fish oil pills during their last trimester were less likely to develop asthma. Fish oil reduces inflammation, which is often seen in asthma, and may explain this effect. The work is still preliminary and the researchers warn that, although their results provide a good proof of concept, it is too early to put them into clinical practice. Read New York Times coverage of the study here.

This is important for you because you may want to talk to your doctor to increase fish consumption in your diet to decrease your risk of asthma.

Pregnancy Weekly NewsTo avoid peanut allergies, feed your baby… peanuts!

Advice on when to feed your baby allergenic food has changed wildly in the past few years. It had recently been thought that, in order to avoid the development of allergies later in life, children should not be fed highly allergenic foods – especially peanuts – until three years of age. Now, the thinking has swung in the exact opposite direction! The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has just recommended feeding babies peanut containing foods (but not peanuts themselves, as they are still a choking hazard) to babies 4-6 months old. These new guidelines are largely based on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that demonstrated that Israeli babies, who universally love a peanut butter snack called Bamba, develop peanut allergies at a much lower rate than babies in the US and the UK. Read about the new guidelines here, and about the NEJM study here.

This is important for you because feeding your baby peanut containing foods early is an easy and achievable way of mitigating your child’s risk of developing peanut allergies later.

Pregnancy Weekly NewsPros and cons of sleeping options for the newborn baby

A post in The Pulse this week reviews the most popular options for where to put your newborn to sleep (crib, co-sleeper, etc.) and discusses their pros and cons. This article gives you the tools to make the best decision for you and your baby. Read it here.

This is important for you because all of the available options may make this decision seem overwhelming, so it is nice to have the necessary guidance.

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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