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.
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: Gene discovery could lead to development of new male contraceptive, NIH-funded study suggests
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Item of Interest: NIH selects next round of winners in the RADx® Tech for Maternal Health Challenge
The National Institutes of Health announced the next round of winners of its RADx® Tech for Maternal Health Challenge—an $8 million prize competition to accelerate development of technologies to improve maternal health outcomes.
Science Update: Risk of developmental delays may be higher for HIV-free children whose mothers began antiretroviral treatment during pregnancy, NIH-funded study suggests
HIV-free children whose mothers started taking anti-HIV medications while they were in the womb may be at higher risk for lower-than-average scores in one or more areas of development at age 5, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Science Update: High-intensity walking intervals better than moderate walking for stroke rehabilitation, NIH-funded study suggests
A program with intervals of high-intensity walking promotes greater gains in fitness for stroke patients than the currently recommended program of moderate-intensity walking, suggests a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The study enrolled chronic stroke patients—those at least six months past their stroke—often considered more difficult to rehabilitate than recent stroke patients.
Spotlight: Scientific Advances from the Division of Intramural Research
The Division of Intramural Research provides fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems through basic, clinical, and population-based research.
Science Update: Uterine fibroids may slightly increase fetal size but not enough to interfere with birth process, NIH study suggests
Uterine fibroids during pregnancy do not appear to result in undersized newborns, suggests a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The finding allays concerns from previous studies that fibroids might result in smaller-than-normal infants. In fact, the study found that infants born to mothers with fibroids had slightly larger head, arm and thigh circumferences, though not to the extent that they would interfere with birth. The researchers also confirmed prior results suggesting a link between fibroids and increased risk for preterm birth.
Release: Single-dose antibiotic prevents maternal sepsis and death
A single oral dose of the antibiotic azithromycin can reduce the risk of postpartum sepsis and death among women who deliver vaginally by one-third, according to a large multi-country clinical trial funded by NICHD.
Science Update: Postpartum depression, reduced breastfeeding may help account for developmental delays seen in children born to women with depression during pregnancy
Researchers know that children born to mothers who have depression in pregnancy are at risk for developmental delays but haven’t known why. Now, a National Institutes of Health study suggests that depression persisting after pregnancy and reduced breastfeeding may account for at least part of the increased risk. Based on their results, researchers conclude that physicians may be able to reduce this risk by offering treatment for depression both during and after pregnancy and by counseling new mothers on how to breastfeed successfully.
Science Update: Compound in olive leaves may provide endometriosis treatment, NIH-funded mouse study suggests
Oleuropein, a compound found in olive oil and olive leaves, may have the potential to treat endometriosis with fewer side effects than current treatments, suggests a study of mice and human tissue cultures funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Director's Corner: Reflecting on NICHD’s 60th Anniversary Year
Research conducted at NICHD and at NICHD-funded institutions continues to bring us closer to fulfilling our vision of ensuring healthy pregnancies, healthy children, and healthy and optimal lives.
Science Update: NIH researchers map cellular activity underlying infection-induced preterm labor
Mouse study improves understanding of events leading to preterm labor and birth
Selected NICHD Research Advances of 2022
Read about NICHD’s research findings and activities from 2022.
Science Update: NIH scientists appear to decipher how flu viruses enter cells
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health believe they have discovered how influenza viruses open a hole in the cell membrane to inject genetic material into the cell. The findings may inform the development of new technologies to combat infectious microbes and to insert medications, genes, and proteins into cells to treat diseases.