Monday, March 22, 2010

Advances in Pregnancy Research

Photo credit: Torsten Mangner

As a woman who would someday like to be a mother, I tend to take notice of technological advancements that make it possible to better care for future little versions of me. Two areas of research that have specifically caught my attention are mother-to-child transmission and ultrasound technology.

The placenta is an organ that delivers nutrients and oxygen rich blood to a developing fetus. This organ is supposed to be a barrier from harmful substances. As new developments and discoveries in science and health care are made readily available to the public, it is becoming increasingly obvious that there are many more harmful substances that can pass through the placenta to the fetus.

In 1973 the term “fetal alcohol syndrome” was coined. The surgeon general developed warning labels for tobacco products in 1984 as part of the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act. The FDA warned pregnant women against consuming tuna and canned fish due to the effects of mercury on developing fetuses. More recently, a confirmed case of transference of leukemia from mother to child occurred in the fall of 2009.

Ultrasound, a technology in use since the early 1900’s, was first applied in obstetrics in the 1960’s. Parents could hear the heartbeat(s) of their unborn child or children. Today, parents have the amazing ability to see 3-D images of their children. The first smiles and smirks can be seen before the child ever leaves the womb.

Science has made amazing discoveries for parents (and parents-to-be) as well as adoring friends and relatives. But we wouldn’t have any of this information without research. It is essential that we support both the current generation of researchers and the next one. You never know what this little person may grow up to discover.

Jessica Stutzman has a Bachelor of Arts in Security and Intelligence from The Ohio State University and is an administrative assistant at Research!America. She has previously contributed to New Voices on women's issues.

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1 comment:

  1. An update fromthe author: The following article was brought to my attention by a colleague at Research!America. This type of information was the inspiration for the original post. Take a look!