Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Tag Archive for ‘pregnancy’

The ultimate fathers

On this Father’s Day, I would like to pay tribute to a few of nature’s most ‘devoted’ fathers. Take the emperor penguin for example. If you have ever watched the movie March of the Penguins, or even Happy Feet, then you know these avian fathers are rock stars of parenting. Males are responsible for keeping the eggs warm for two months while the females go away to feed. They do […]

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Pediatric obesity in marmoset monkeys begins in the womb

A new review article published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology explored an interesting question: how do prenatal experiences along with the intrauterine environment impact the future development of pediatric and adult obesity in animals? Common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) are New World monkeys that can spontaneously develop obesity early in life when living in captivity with high food availability and relatively low physical activity. Similar to […]

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Understanding stress-induced miscarriage and premature delivery

  Stress during late pregnancy may result in premature delivery or stillbirth. A new study of pregnant Rambouillet cross ewes, published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, was designed to understand why lambs succumb to stress late in pregnancy. They found that while arterial blood pressure and heart rates were normal during late gestation (final 2 weeks before birth) in fetuses from pregnant ewes with elevated stress hormones, fetal heart rate and aortic blood pressure declined on the day […]

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The marsupial placenta

When I think of marsupials, what comes to mind is an image of a mother carrying her young (joey) in a pouch. Contrary to popular belief, however, mother tammar wallabies (Macropus eugenii) have an internal functioning placenta. Albeit, it only develops near the end of their short pregnancy (a mere 26.5 days), just before the developing offspring moves from the uterus to the pouch for further development and nursing. A […]

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Placental peptide reverses symptoms of preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a serious complication that develops in about 5-8% of pregnant women. It is characterized by elevated blood pressure and is typically accompanied by excess protein in the urine (a sign of kidney problems). Symptoms often (but not always) return to normal after delivery of the baby. Elabela is a recently discovered micropeptide secreted by the placenta in mammals. It is also found in fish where it plays a […]

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Spiders inspire way to help premature babies

Surfactant is a lipoprotein substance that is secreted by special cells located in the alveoli of our lungs. The alveoli are the grape-like structures where gas exchange happens. Without surfactant, these alveoli would collapse and prevent gas exchange. Babies born prematurely often suffer from respiratory distress syndrome because their lungs do not make enough surfactant. Now researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have revolutionized the way surfactant is created by […]

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