Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending September 10, 2017

Waa Waa Waa

If it seems like your baby’s cry was evolutionarily designed to put you on edge, that’s because it was. Mouse babies who lack the neurons required for crying are ignored by their mothers, and end up dying. And adult mammalian brains respond to babies’ cries more quickly than to other, similar sounds. Read more here.

This is important for you because your baby will cry, and it will be heartrending, but remember that it is the only way for her to get your attention – which she must do because she is dependent on you for everything.

Another Royal

with her third, slated to join Prince George and Princess Charlotte next year. And just like commoners, she has to deal with morning sickness again. Read more here.

This is important for you because if you’re pregnant, you have something in common with Kate Middleton!

Planned Parenthood gets a Lasker Award

The Lasker Award is sometimes referred to as the “American Nobel” since so many of its winners go on to receive the Swedish prize. In addition to awarding scientists, the Lasker Foundation also gives a public service award. This year, they granted it to Planned Parenthood. Read more here.

This is important for you because Planned Parenthood is an enormous provider of women’s health care services, and its government funding is in question.

Melatonin During Pregnancy

Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Animal studies have suggested that administering melatonin to a pregnant woman may protect her baby’s brain from potential injury. However, Cochrane – a Britain based nonprofit comprised of researchers and physicians who compile scientific studies and clinical trials in order to collate their results – has not identified any studies rigorous enough to justify the practice. Read more here.

This is important for you because animal studies are invaluable in biomedical research, but multiple human trials must be conducted before any clinically relevant conclusions can be reached.

No Zika Vaccine Yet

Sanofi, the only pharmaceutical company that had a Zika vaccine approaching market readiness, has halted work on it. But other companies, and the NIH, are continuing to pursue a Zika vaccine. Read more here.

This is important for you because it is a good reminder that the health care products we depend upon, like vaccines, can be staggeringly expensive to develop.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was Preeclampsia May Involve the Fetal Genes. Preeclampsia is high blood pressure in the mother; it can also be associated with maternal kidney dysfunction. Its causes have remained undefined, although it was known to have a hereditary component. A new study implicates a particular gene that the fetus may carry. 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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