The real reason why female killer whales go through menopause

Killer whales are one of only three species to survive long past their reproductive years. It was thought that the main reason for menopause in female whales was family collaboration, since older females play a crucial role in helping find food for the younger family members. But a new study shows that older females’ calves […]

New research on the Zika virus

  Further evidence is linking the Zika virus to fetal brain damage and now to serious neurological disease in adults. In the first paper researchers performed brain scans on 23 babies born to mothers thought to be infected with Zika. The scans revealed a majority of the babies had severe brain malformation and scar-like lesions […]

STIs promote monogamy, but only in certain instances

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may have helped foster monogamy in some human societies, according to a new study. Researchers found that when a society is large the prevalence of STIs becomes endemic, reducing fertility rates and favouring the emergence of monogamists in society. However in smaller groups, with a maximum of 30 people, STI outbreaks […]

Prenatal sex selection?

Indian-born women who already have two daughters are significantly more likely to have a son after moving to Canada, which the researchers and the author of an accompanying commentary believe shows “prenatal sex selection is likely present among first-generation immigrants to Canada from India and provide strong evidence that suggests induced abortions are being used […]

Strengthening the link between Zika and microcephaly

Evidence supporting the link between the Zika virus and microcephaly has been found in a retrospective study of the outbreak in French Polynesia between October, 2013 and April, 2014. Researchers examined medical records to find cases of microcephaly between September, 2013 and July, 2015. They found eight cases of microcephaly during this time, seven of […]

Human sperm are surface swimmers

Human sperm are able to swim faster and straighter when they are close to a surface by adopting a unique ‘slither’ according to new research. The research team believes this slither may have adapted to the confined space in the reproductive system. Researchers filmed human sperm swimming within a micron of a glass surface and […]

APGAR scores provide clues about the mothers’ health

Researchers found a strong correlation between a newborn’s Apgar score and whether the mother will be admitted to the ICU after delivery. The researchers hope these findings will help doctors predict which mothers will become critically ill after giving birth, and may help predict which mothers need additional medical checks. The study analyzed data from […]

Obstetricians and family doctors have equal outcomes for low-risk births

During low risk births, the risk of newborn death and maternal complications is similar for deliveries performed by family physicians and those performed by obstetricians, according to a new study. The authors note that these findings should only be applied to low-risk deliveries that could be safely performed by either a generalist or a specialist, […]

The importance of singing well

The reproductive success of male song sparrows, one of the most abundant native sparrows of North America, depends on their song repertoire, not the quality of their territory, according to new research. The researchers found that males with a larger repertoire produced and fledged more offspring annually. The study also found that these males moved […]

Traffic-related air pollution during pregnancy is a likely cause of asthma

Children exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution before they are born are more likely to suffer from asthma as children according to a study of Toronto neighbourhoods. The study also found that children in close proximity to high-traffic areas are more likely to suffer from asthma. Researchers analyzed the health and residential records […]

Adoption in Eastern Grey Kangaroos: A Consequence of Misdirected Care?

For the first time, researchers have observed wild kangaroos adopting young kangaroos. In a six-year study of eastern grey kangaroos in Australia, 11 of 326 juveniles were adopted and four of them involved ‘switches’ between mothers. In these switches a mother adopted a juvenile while simultaneously abandoning her own, or a previously adopted, offspring. The […]

Scientists genetically modify human embryos

In a world first, scientists have reported editing the genomes of human embryos. Chinese researchers using ‘non-viable’ embryos which cannot result in a live birth in order to attempt to modify the gene responsible for a potentially fatal blood disorder called β-thalassaemia. They used a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR/Cas9 (pronounced ‘crisper’) which allows you  to […]

Can just a phone call a week help minimize postpartum depression?

A study of mothers in New Brunswick found that phone conversations with helpful peers can diminish postpartum depression (PPD). Researchers in New Brunswick provided peer support through weekly phone calls to 64 mothers suffering from moderate PPD for several months. At the beginning of the experiment all 64 of the mothers were moderately depressed, yet by […]

A mothers heartbeat, even a digital version, may help premature infants development

Babies born prematurely show an increase in growth in the brain’s auditory cortex when recordings of their mother’s voice and heartbeat are played. The auditory cortex in utero is thought to be important for the development of vocal communication as well as providing the ability to interpret and remember speech. Researchers played recordings of a […]

Maternal hypertension and the baby

While almost 10 per cent of pregnant women have hypertension, a new study suggests that should not worry them too much when it comes to their baby’s health. An international team of physicians followed 987 pregnant women in 16 countries, 75 per cent of which suffered from hypertension. They randomly assigned them to either a […]

No apparent correlation between HPV vaccine and risky sexual behaviour

Vaccinating teenage girls against the human papilloma virus (HPV) does not appear to increase risky sexual behaviour. There was concern that receiving the vaccination would cause an increase in such behaviour, however this study shows the concern is unfounded and should not prevent vaccinating girls at a young age. The study followed over 260,000 girls […]

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