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- How Pregnancy changes the brain and a vaccination drive that is stuck
How Pregnancy changes the brain and a vaccination drive that is stuck
This week's newsletter is a bit different. These interesting stories from the world of science have a common connection.
All three stories in this newsletter are about the female sex. Let's get started.
A recent study from researchers at The Francis Crick Institute in London found that female mice are not born mothers. Female mice do not have a motherly instinct and do not groom pups if introduced into a nest. Virgin females can even kill a baby mouse.
Prior to becoming pregnant, female mice and not very keen on even grooming newborns Image credit: Mice Mama-Pixabay
But once the female becomes pregnant, something radically changes and they switch to taking care of the young ones. The research team focused on a group of brain cells called galanin neurons and found that hormones such as estrogen and progesterone led the galanin neurons to make new connections, as though making a circuit for parenting.
The neurons have receptors for these hormones and in their experiments, the researchers removed them to see how new mothers respond. In the absence of the receptors, the new mothers did not even try to nurse the newborns. On the other hand, activating these neurons in virgin mice made them act like mothers.
Many women will agree that their brains feel like they went underwent radical changes after pregnancy. But it also brings to the fore the important point that the process is hormonally controlled and can go wrong.
When a vaccine is stuck for no reason
Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of death in Indian women. As many as 21 percent of global cases of cervical cancer are seen in India and a vaccine that provides protection against the causative virus, HPV, becomes an easy way to prevent it.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, one would assume that vaccine approval and delivery is something that government machinery can handle well. But in India, a cost-effective HPV vaccine is stuck.
The NTAGI recommended the HPV vaccine as part of the National Immunization Program in 2017. Image credit: Vaccination Injection Pixabay
The vaccine developed by the Serum Institute of India costs the government $2.50 as against $25 for private clinics. It is also cheaper than vaccines of other brands which can cost as much as $125.
Back in 2017, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization recommended that the HPV vaccine be included in the National Immunization Program but failed to make the cut in the vaccine list.
The Oral hygiene link to hypertension
Speaking of women's health, over 1,200 post-menopausal women (>63 years of age) were evaluated to see if periodontal disease and hypertension, two commonly seen conditions in older adults have any correlation.
The blood pressure of participants was collected along with oral plaque samples and 35 percent of these women were found to have normal blood pressure at the time of enrollment, while 24 percent had elevated blood pressure but did not need medication.
Over a 10-year-follow up period, one-third of women from these groups developed hypertension, and 10 unique bacterial species found in the gum plaque samples were found to increase the risk of developing the disease.
Read more about this study on our blog.
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Until next time,