An umbilical cord with a true knot. A true knot is exactly what is described, a knot that forms in the umbilical cord during the pregnancy, typically as a result of the foetus flipping and moving within the amniotic sac. True knots can, at times, be a risk to the developing foetus as it can lead to a reduction in circulation and this may result in the death of the foetus in utero - especially during labour. 

Prime Violinists Leave Baseball Game Cells

Insider Baseball by Joan Didion (New York Review Of Books): This essay just nails the ways in which politics is basically upmarket reality TV (in that almost everything about what most people see and read about politics is content which has been deliberately manufactured to fill in TV newstime), where the journalists and politicians have an unspoken knowledge of the rules of the game. All of which prevents outsiders (e.g., large swathes of the 99%) from having much of a say in the political process, and prevents important issues from being debated. And it’s exactly the same in Australia. [via Jay Rosen, who also has interesting/related things to say about coverage of the US Republican primaries]

Test of Time: In Defense Of A Game That Lasts Five Days by Wright Thompson (ESPN): The form of cricket called ‘test cricket’ is a very strange thing: a game lasts for five whole days, and quite often ends in a draw. And a game where, though the point is to score runs by hitting balls, there are batsmen who are earnestly praised for their ability to not hit the balls. Though for something so strange, it’s extremely popular right now in Australia - it’s more or less the biggest news story going between Christmas and mid-January. I was watching a test between Australia and India the other day, and where other games have cheerleaders and sirens and so forth, this game had artists stationed around the stadium, some of whom drew impressionist pieces of the game. Anyway, Thompson is an American who is baffled by the appeal of this very strange game (which I do love and have strong opinions about), and who goes to all five days of a test to try and understand how such a game could possibly survive into the 21st century. In the end, he seems to think that test cricket is basically a form of Zen.

Our Selves, Other Cells by Jena Pincott (Boing Boing): When you’re a foetus, inside your mother’s belly, you swap cells with your mother. By the end of pregnancy, about 6 percent of the DNA in your mother’s bloodstream comes from the fetus. And some of the cells in your body, to this day, actually have your mother’s DNA. Which is amazing when you think about it, and may well explain things like babybrain.

Anesthesia May Leave Patients Conscious - And Finally Show Consciousness In The Brain by Vaughan Bell (The Crux): Doctors assume that patients are unconscious if they do not respond to prodding or talking. This is not always the case - perhaps 1 in 1000 people who go under don’t actually go fully under. And such phenomena may say very interesting things about the workings of the mind. (Though the examples of people who are not fully unconscious that Bell gives here seem much more like people dreaming than people who are semi-conscious - or is that the idea?)

The Prime Minister Who Disappeared by Mike Dash (Past Imperfect): In 1967, an Australian Prime Minister named Harold Holt literally disappeared. He went for a swim on a beach (somewhat foolhardily, considering) and drowned; his body was sucked under the water and he was never seen again. Of course, there were conspiracy theories about him boarding a Chinese submarine. Sadly, Dash’s article forgets to mention the existence in Melbourne of the Harold Holt Swim Centre, a suburban public pool, named in somewhat poor taste (but possibly typical Australian humour).

Violinists Can’t Tell The Difference Between Stradivarius Violins And New Ones by Ed Yong (Not Exactly Rocket Science): Of course they can’t - it’s all placebo effect. I’m very curious to see if guitar nerds can actually tell the difference between the tones of the various electric guitars and amps that they talk about at such length. (Maybe I should do a study on this?) 

Stress during pregnancy can affect fetal development

Stress hormones in the mother can affect foetal development, according to a study published today in The Journal of Physiology.

To test whether high stress levels in pregnant mice had an impact on their offspring, pregnant mice received the natural glucocorticoid corticosterone at different times during pregnancy, either from day 11 to 16 (20 females), from day 14-19 (31 females), or not at all (74 control females).

Researchers found that increased levels of glucocorticoid stress hormones in pregnant mice caused the mother to eat more but reduced the ability of the placenta to transport glucose to her foetus.


The Brain During Development

The nervous system develops from embryonic tissue called the ectoderm. The first sign of the developing nervous system is the neural plate that can be seen at about the 16th day of development. Over the next few days, a “trench” is formed in the neural plate - this creates a neural groove. By the 21st day of development, a neural tube is formed when the edges of the neural groove meet. The rostral (front) part of the neural tubes goes on to develop into the brain and the rest of the neural tube develops into the spinal cord. Neural crest cells become the peripheral nervous system.

Placenta plays pivotal ‘umpire’ role to influence pregnancy outcomes

Researchers have shown for the first time how the placenta “umpires” a fight for nutrients between a pregnant mother and her unborn baby. The study suggests that the placenta will adjust the amount of nutrients transported to the foetus for growth in line with the mother’s physical ability to supply.

The findings, published in the journal PNAS, suggest that if the bodily environment that a mother provides for her baby is unfavourable, for example through small body size or metabolic dysfunction, the placenta will change the flow of nutrients to the foetus relative to her own state. This can affect foetal development, resulting in complications at birth.

It is the first time that scientists have been able to provide clear evidence that the placenta plays the decisive role in this delicate balancing act, rather than merely acting as a passive interface which enables the transfer of nutrients from mother to foetus.

The study, by researchers at the University of Cambridge, involved making a precise genetic change in mice, which caused poor growth and changed the mother’s bodily environment. They then observed how the placenta developed and acted in response, finding that in mothers in which this alteration had been made, the structure of the placenta was different, and fewer nutrients reached the foetus.

Maternal and fetal genomes interplay through phosphoinositol 3-kinase(PI3K)-p110α signaling to modify placental resource allocation, PNAS,

Neural tube defects

Defects of the neural tube are the most common birth defects; one in 1,000 live births in the United States are affected. Adding folic acid to women’s diets reduces neural tube defects by 50-70% (Dukes Centre of human genetics).

Various neural tube defects are caused when different regions of the neural tube fail to close:

-       Failure of the posterior region to close at day 27:  Spina Bifida

-       Failure of the anterior region to close: Anencephaly

-       Failure of entire neural tube to close along entire body axis: Craniorachischisis

Spina bifida leaves some of the spinal cord exposed, the severity of the condition depends on how much of the spinal cord remains exposed. Anencephaly on the other hand leaves the forebrain exposed to amniotic fluid causing it to degenerate - interrupting fetal brain development and preventing the skull form forming. Anencephaly is fatal.

Stress during pregnancy can affect fetal development

Stress hormones in the mother can affect foetal development, according to a study published today in The Journal of Physiology.

To test whether high stress levels in pregnant mice had an impact on their offspring, pregnant mice received the natural glucocorticoid corticosterone at different times during pregnancy, either from day 11 to 16 (20 females), from day 14-19 (31 females), or not at all (74 control females).

Researchers found that increased levels of glucocorticoid stress hormones in pregnant mice caused the mother to eat more but reduced the ability of the placenta to transport glucose to her foetus.

Dr Owen Vaughan, lead author of the study explained: “Together with previous work, the findings show that maternal glucocorticoids regulate foetal nutrition. Higher glucocorticoid hormone levels in the mother (as seen in stressful conditions), can reduce glucose transport across the placenta and lead to a decrease in foetal weight.

"Glucocorticoid levels in pregnant women may determine the specific combination of nutrients received by the foetus and influence the long-term metabolic health of their children as a result. This could have implications for women stressed during pregnancy or treated clinically with glucocorticoids, if the mechanisms are similar in humans.

"Our research showed that under stress, certain genes in the placenta were modified. One of the genes shown to be altered in the placenta by maternal stress hormones was Redd1. This gene is believed to signal availability of other substances, like oxygen, and to interact with intracellular pathways regulating growth and nutrient uptake in other tissues of the body. Future studies may prove this molecule is important in the placenta, in linking environmental cues to the nutrition of the foetus.”

Malaria in pregnancy alters foetal neurovascular development

Malaria in pregnancy alters foetal neurovascular development

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A growing body of evidence has established the importance of the in utero environment on neurodevelopment and long-term cognitive and behavioral outcomes. These data suggest factors that disrupt the tightly regulated in utero environment can modify normal neurodevelopmental processes. Approximately 125 million pregnancies worldwide are at risk of malaria infection every year. However the impact…

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@goandannouce posted a photo set but since I keep proving their arguments wrong they blocked me. I still want to respond.

The image posted says “CPC’s give diapers, clothes, monetary assistance, housing, employment, counselling, adoption refferals, parenting classes…. abortion clinics kill your baby and send you home with free condoms. Tell us again who’s anti woman?”

The only link to support these claims are to a face book page where they took the images. Here is what I have for an answer for you:

CPC’s literally lie about their medical qualifications, foetal development, all facts surrounding pregnancy, the potential risks of abortion -if they can be persuaded into even mentioning abortion- and the laws. They also only provide pregnancy tests, an ultrasound, and maybe a weeks worth of supplies at SOME locations, but cannot help you keep your job and sure as shit will not do anything for that child they shame you into having when it’s older. They harangue you into what they want you to do and don’t give a shit about what you want or actually need. They will literally lie to you just to get you inside their doors. (source) (Also check out @expose-cpcs for more examples of how horrible these places truly are. )

PP provides abortions, birth control including the shot, pills, implants, diaphragms and yes, condoms, for cheap or free. They also do PAP smears, breast exams, mammogram referrals, provide prescriptions for inhalers and other medication, provide counseling, std testing, std treatments, colonoscopies, prenatal care, adoption referral services, uti treamtmenst and MORE. (source). They are what you call an ‘abortion clinic’.

Tell me again who’s anti pregnant-person?

A Child’s Mind, Up in Smoke

It has long been suggested by medical professionals that alcohol, nicotine, and other recreational drugs should be steered clear of during pregnancy. This study is the most recent of many drug trials using lab strains of mice to test the impact of recreational drugs on foetal development. Once again, I return to my friend, the cannabinoid receptor (CB1R). In my previous article, I described how it can trigger the oxytocin-based integral reward system; that it leads to the formation of more reward-system synapses, and that deficiencies in this pathway may underpin social anxiety in autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs). It’s attributed to so the formation of so many more types of neurone than simply increasing your reward system though. In fact, CB1R is one of the most abundant receptor types in multiple regions of the human brain, and is highly implicated in axonal pathfinding, the process of axonal growth and neuronal connection in new neurones, for a variety of functions.

In the developing foetal brain, it unfortunately has a very damaging effect. Cannabinoids from the marijuana enter the mother’s blood stream and cross the mother-child placental barrier, and into the bloodstream of the developing foetus. Cannabinoid (CB) signalling by the bodily-produced endocannabinoids anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachnoylglycerol (2-AG) stimulates formation of vital neurones, including the corticospinal motor neuron (CSMN), a vital neurone which travels the entire length of the spinal column, helping to link sensory feedback to muscle function. Also developing at this time is the oxytocin-mediated reward feedback mechanism, which drives personal motivation, and aids social ability, and feelings of attraction. These are just two of many thousands of examples of important neuronal pathways. Stunting or malformation of the CSMN could cause a variety of issues from lack of fine motor control to total paralysis of the body. Stunting growth in the reward system may lead to lack of oxytocin release, so no positive feelings are gained from social interaction. This is one cause of social anxiety, and is classifiable among ASDs.

In most cases, as a foetus develops, the concentrations of various neurotransmitters, including endocannabinoids, are at very precise concentrations at specific synapses to guide the developing neurones. If these synapses are then flooded with neurotransmitters, then this may be interpreted as a signal from a presynaptic neurone or nearby cell body. The effect of the signal will have a different effect depending on the function of the receptor. It may prevent or halt growth of some neurones, and cause unnecessary neuronal growth elsewhere. In short, the brain structure and nervous system may end up a disorganised tangle.

Be careful what you put into your body during pregnancy. Remember, you may have to go without your vice for nine months, but giving in and drinking, smoking, and/or drug use may affect the entire life of another human.

Further reading:

Foetal brain development, artwork. During the 4th week (25 days) the neural tube begins to differentiate into a spinal cord, forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain. These areas continue to develop over the 5th week (35 days). During the 6th week (40 days) the forebrain differentiates into the telencephalon and diencephalon. The telencephalon develops into the hippocampus, basal ganglia, amygdala and the cerebral cortex. The diencephalon develops into the thalamus and hypothalamus. By the 8th week (50 days) the cerebral hemispheres have formed and the brain is growing rapidly. By the 15th week (100 days) the cerebellum and medulla oblongata have formed from the hindbrain.

Foetal brain. Ventral (bottom) view of the brain of a 24-week-old foetus, the front of the brain is at top. The foetus’ developing spinal cord (lower centre) can be seen protruding from the brain. Below the spinal cord is the cerebellum, which controls motor function and maintenance of balance. The small organ at centre is the pituitary gland. This is an endocrine gland whose overall role is to regulate growth and metabolism. At this stage of development the foetal brain shows active auditory and visual responses.