Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending March 28, 2021

More than 12,000 pregnant and recently pregnant women are already participating. Help us understand the impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy and babies. Be a part of it!

Click here to Register.

Medicaid coverage should expand along with bellies

People with Medicaid currently lose their pregnancy-related coverage sixty days after giving birth. Black and Latinx women comprise a disproportionate number of Medicaid enrollees, and also suffer from disproportionate rates of maternal mortality. Expanding their Medicaid coverage could prevent many of these deaths. Read more here.

This is important for you because Congress just passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which includes an option for states to extend postpartum coverage from 60 days to 12 months. Hopefully states will exercise that option–which is currently set to expire in five years.

COVID-19 and pregnancy

It has only been a year, so only now have we gathered enough information to try to figure out how COVID-19 impacts pregnancy. Listen here.

This is important for you because although it seems like pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of hospitalisation, babies appear to be largely spared from severe illness. And data continues to accumulate that getting vaccinated can help protect you and the fetus you’re carrying.


So… sperm counts are falling. Like a lot. Like so much that Shanna Swan, an epidemiologist, just wrote a book called Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race. The title kind of says it all. Read more here.

This is important for you because Swan outlines a number of factors, both biological and cultural, that are diminishing fertility in both men and women. All of them are alarming.

(Biological) Sex and Immunity

COVID-19 has brought to light many things about our world that have been there for a long time and known to people who studied them but largely unknown to the general public. One is the different way that male bodies (people born with one X and one Y chromosome) and female bodies (those that have 2 X chromosomes) cope with infectious diseases. As a general rule, females deal with them much better; the flip side to their vigorous immunity, though, is that they are at an increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases. Sabra Klein, a biologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, speculates that the difference is tied to females’ reproductive capacity. “One of the things a mother can give her baby during pregnancy is antibodies, some of the immunity that we have,” she says. “This is likely involved as a mechanism of protection of young, when they’re most vulnerable to severe outcomes.” Read more here.

This is important for you because it’s nice to have even a small leg up in combating our current viral crisis.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was the Passover themed The Four Anti-Vaxxers: How to Discuss COVID-19 Vaccination With Your Vaccine-Hesitant Relatives. 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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