Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending September 29, 2019. 

Free tampons

The Australian state of Victoria is providing free menstrual products in school bathrooms so girls don’t have to skip school when they get their periods. They are following Scotland, which provides free sanitary products to all students in the country. Read more here.

This is important for you because period poverty is a real thing that can dramatically affect girls’ education and thus their lives, and it exists in this country too.

The Human Placenta Project

The placenta is not a passive conduit of nutrients and waste between mother and fetus; it is a constantly changing organ, and one we know very little about. Problems with the placenta can cause pre-eclampsia, a condition dangerous to both mother and baby. But they are often not recognized until after the problem has occurred, because that’s when the few studies of the placenta have been done – after it has been delivered, when its job is done. The Human Placenta Project aims to study it during the pregnancy, when it is functional, to help figure out its role in normal and abnormal pregnancies. Read this important article here.

This is important for you because your baby’s life – like the life of every human  who has ever walked the earth – depends on this mysterious organ.

Synthetic embryos

Organoids are all the rage in medical science, providing researchers with more accurate models to study their favorite organ – brain, liver, kidney – than a two dimensional petri dish of cells. Embryos are no different; or are they? Human stem cells can be induced to form structures very similar to early embryos that can be used to study embryonic development, and although they cannot grow into humans (like the leftover embryos from IVF), they still develop enough to make some people uneasy. Read more here

This is important for you because what do you think? Might this be a good way to test if drugs are safe for pregnant women? Are animal studies better?


This arresting image of a father holding his baby at Mile Four Hospital in Abakaliki, Nigeria won the Medicine in Focus category of the Wellcome Photography Prize this year. When incubators are not available, the skin-to-skin contact of this kangarooing helps preemies survive. See the picture here.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week were Pregnancy Nosebleed: What to Do? and Your Definitive Guide to Prenatal Testing. Read them here and 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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