Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the week ending April 16, 2017.

More evidence for the “gut-brain axis”

The health and well-being of the bacterial community residing in our intestines have been implicated in many aspects of our lives, and now behavior may be one of them. This community gets established in the first three years of life, and disturbing it with antibiotics may have lifelong consequences. New work suggests that antibiotics in infancy are linked to more aggressive behavior in adults. The researchers speculate that the antibiotics alter the signals that the gut microbes send to the brain. A few caveats, though: the work was done in mice, not humans, and did not distinguish between antibiotics given to the pups after birth and their mothers before birth. Read more here.

This is important for you because as tempting as it may be to get antibiotics for your baby’s ear infection because “it couldn’t hurt”, make sure they are absolutely necessary before you do so. It actually could hurt.

Tdap during pregnancy

If pregnant women get a Tdap shot it can protect their babies from whooping cough for the first two months of life, when it is safe for the babies to get their own shot. Read more here.

This is important for you because although you probably don’t need another needle stick during pregnancy, this one can really protect your baby in its most vulnerable first months.

Artificial womb

No, this is not the first step into a dystopia where babies are grown in labs. Rather, it is part of a new trend in biomedical research to try to simulate organs for study, since tissue culture systems and animal models do not adequately mimic human physiology. The latest organ to be simulated is the womb. Researchers hope to use it to better understand menstruation and the early stages of pregnancy and the problems that can accompany these processes. Read David Warmflash’s article in The Pulse here and more about this intriguing topic here.

This is important for you because better research into pregnancy and its attendant issues is always good.

“But it’s not fair

Babies as young as six months old love superheroes, according to research out of Japan. That is, they can recognize inequalities and value those who rush to mitigate injustice by aiding the weak. Read more here.

This is important for you because you probably didn’t need another reason to remember to always be a good role model for your child, but now you know you can never start too early.

The most popular article in The Pulse this week was Childbirth Injuries: Something To Take Seriously. Many women who give birth vaginally experience tearing of the pelvic skin and muscles, which can cause urinary incontinence. The risk of childbirth injuries increases with age. Read it here.

This is important for you because in your research and preparations before childbirth, try to become aware of your risks.

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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