Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending December 31, 2017.

Baby pot-heads

Marijuana use is becoming increasingly more accepted among all segments of the population – including pregnant women. Because it had been illegal until recently, very few studies have been done on how it may affect fetal development, so we don’t really know. Read more here.

This is important for you because since we don’t know how weed affects the fetus, it is probably safer not to indulge.

Paper beats plastic

A new start up has just made a sustainable pregnancy test. It uses the same technique as the old standby, but is made of paper instead of plastic – so it can be flushed down the toilet, where it will eventually biodegrade, rather than sitting in a landfill for centuries. It also lasts longer in high temperatures, like those prevalent in the developing (and future) world. Read more here.

This is important for you because bringing a new person into the world means thinking about the state of that world and working to protect and improve it. Sustainable innovations like these are vital.

Maternal mortality

Dying in childbirth is not relegated to the nineteenth century. The US has the worst maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and this rate is on the rise here even as it falls elsewhere across the globe. All women are susceptible, but especially women of color. It is an indicator of poor access to health care, and may continue to rise if access to abortions become limited. Dealing with maternal mortality will be a top priority for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2018. Read more here.

This is important for you because remember to get adequate prenatal care if you can.

Breast tech

The Willow Wearable Breast Pump is number two on PC Magazine’s Top fifteen list of tech products for 2017. It is battery powered, and fits inside your bra. Read more here.

This is important for you because perhaps that big pumping machine will finally be a thing of the past.


The most popular article on The Pulse this week was Evolving the Artificial Placenta into an Artificial Womb: Technical Challenges. The artificial placenta that has been developed at the University of Pennsylvania can function only as lungs, so can support a fetus that has already developed everything else – one at about 20 weeks of gestation. It cannot yet support a younger, smaller fetus. 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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