Among certain new fathers, the brain structure known as the hippocampus appears to grow larger from their partner’s pregnancy through to their child’s second year, suggests a study funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. Men who began the study with the largest hippocampal volume and had the greatest increases in hippocampal growth reported the greatest increase in feelings of attachment and bonding and lower stress levels regarding their new child.
NICHD issues News Releases and Media Advisories to the news media. Spotlight and Research Feature articles explain NICHD research findings and public health issues to the general public. An Item of Interest is a short announcement of relevant information, such as a notable staff change.
Science Update: Increase in hippocampus volume may reflect successful adaptation to fatherhood, NIH-funded study suggests
Item of Interest: New policies needed for maternal health care among incarcerated people with COVID-19, according to NICHD-funded researchers
The health of pregnant individuals and new mothers in the nation’s prisons should be prioritized to avoid future public health crises from COVID-19, according to an analysis by NICHD-funded investigators. Recommended policy changes include early release, when possible, because pregnant people are at high risk from COVID-19, and prisons are not well-equipped to provide the necessary medical care. Moreover, prisons should promote COVID-19 vaccination and develop targeted messages for this population to counteract vaccine misinformation.
Science Update: Cellulose gel may help prevent spread of SARS-CoV-2, NIH study suggests
A gel made from the seeds of a South American palm tree entraps SARS-CoV-2 and the protein the virus uses to enter cells, preventing the virus from infecting cells in laboratory cultures, a National Institutes of Health study has found. The findings raise the possibility of future studies to determine if the gel could be incorporated into masks and filters to reduce airborne spread of SARS-CoV-2.
Media Advisory: Researchers develop model for how the brain acquires essential omega-3 fatty acids
Findings may aid design of targeted drug delivery into the brain and central nervous system.
Science Update: Gene discovery could lead to development of new male contraceptive, NIH-funded study suggests
Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have discovered a gene that could serve as a target for a new, non-hormonal contraceptive. The gene, arrestin domain containing 5 (ARRDC5) is present in several mammalian species and controls the last step in sperm maturation. Deactivating the gene results in lower sperm count and sperm with impaired movement that are incapable of fertilizing an egg—without any apparent ill effects elsewhere in the body.
Director's Corner: Supporting Small Business Innovations
Small businesses play a critical role in driving scientific progress by helping to move innovations out of labs and into the public marketplace. NICHD grants to small businesses have supported development of products ranging from the first FDA-approved endometriosis treatment to at-home rehabilitation devices.
Release: “Eat, Sleep, Console” reduces hospital stay and need for medication among opioid-exposed infants
Researchers have found the “Eat, Sleep, Console” (ESC) care approach to be more effective than using the Finnegan Neonatal Abstinence Scoring Tool (FNAST) to assess and manage opioid-exposed newborns, according to a national clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Media Advisory: Biomarker pattern found in kids with COVID 19-linked inflammatory syndrome
Children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C)—a rare condition linked with the virus that causes COVID-19—have biochemical indicators of cell injury and cell death that are distinct from other children with COVID-19, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Science Update: International group identifies best management of rare neuroendocrine cancers—phaeochromocytoma and paraganglioma
Pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas are rare types of tumors that are typically found in the abdomen but can occur in any location of the body. An international group of health care professionals developed a consensus statement on how to best manage these tumors when they are caused by variants in the gene succinate dehydrogenase complex subunit D (SDHD).
Science Update: Urea in breast milk feeds beneficial bacteria in infant gut, NIH-funded study suggests
Urea, present in breast milk but not digested by the infant, appears to foster the growth of beneficial bacteria in the infant gut, suggests a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Urea is a nitrogen-containing waste product of protein digestion. In return for the breast milk-supplied urea, the bacteria provide the infant with essential nutrients. The results have important implications for the development of infant formula.
Science Update: Gene therapy for rare neurodegenerative disease shows early promise
A research team including NICHD scientists has developed a potential gene therapy for hereditary spastic paraplegia 50, a rare childhood-onset neurodegenerative disorder that leads to developmental delays, cognitive impairment, and eventual paralysis.
Science Update: Children born to women with COVID-19 could be at risk for heart disease, diabetes in later life, NIH-funded study suggests
Infants born in 2020 through mid-2021 to women with COVID-19 weighed less at birth, but grew at a faster rate than a comparable group born to women who did not have COVID-19, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Previous studies have found that preterm infants and other infants who are small or underweight at birth and who undergo catch-up growth in the first year are at higher risk for later life obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, compared to infants born at normal weight. The authors called for additional studies of infants whose mothers had COVID-19 during pregnancy to learn if they have increased health risks later in life.
Release: Tranexamic acid does not appear to prevent maternal hemorrhage after cesarean delivery
Tranexamic acid appears no more effective than placebo in reducing the need for blood transfusion or preventing maternal death in patients with increased risk for excessive bleeding because of cesarean delivery, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Tranexamic acid slows the natural breakdown of blood clots and was considered promising for reducing the risk of excessive bleeding after giving birth—known as postpartum hemorrhage—after cesarean delivery.
Spotlight: Women in Science: Dr. Veronica Gomez-Lobo’s Nontraditional Route to Research
Dr. Veronica Gomez-Lobo, director of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology at NICHD, began her career as a clinician focused on caring for underserved populations. Taking advantage of interesting opportunities led her to become involved in medical education, and later, in scientific research.
Item of Interest: NICHD announces awards for Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has announced new funding for participating centers in its Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network.
Item of Interest: NIH announces winners of youth art challenge
The National Institutes of Health is pleased to announce the winners of the STRIVE for Change: Drawing on Our Strengths Art Challenge, a prize competition for original artwork highlighting the strengths of communities experiencing health disparities. Two entries were selected to receive cash prizes.
Director's Corner: Addressing Inequities to IMPROVE Maternal Health for All
Black people are about three times as likely as White people to die from a pregnancy-related cause, regardless of income or education level. The NIH-wide IMPROVE initiative works to reduce preventable pregnancy-related deaths and complications and promote health equity.
Science Update: Women report small, temporary increase in menstrual flow after COVID-19 vaccination, NIH-funded study suggests
Compared to unvaccinated women, women vaccinated for COVID-19 have a slightly higher risk of a heavier period after vaccination, suggests a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. However, flow returns to normal in the next menstrual period.
Item of Interest: NICHD announces awards for Neonatal Research Network
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has announced new funding for participating centers in its Neonatal Research Network (NRN). The purpose of the NRN is to improve healthcare and outcomes for newborns.
Science Update: Placental cells secrete tiny structures that may play a role in regulating blood sugar during pregnancy, NIH-funded study suggests
Placental cells secrete extracellular vesicles—tiny, balloon-like structures containing proteins, enzymes, DNA, and other molecules capable of transmitting chemical messages between cells—that appear to help regulate glucose uptake by maternal cells, according to a mouse study funded by the National Institutes of Health. In a series of experiments, the researchers found evidence that release of the vesicles follows placental release of the enzyme O-glycosyl transferase (OGT) after glucose levels rise. The findings may inform the development of new treatments for gestational (pregnancy-related) diabetes.