Blood Test Might Predict Pregnancy Due Date and Preterm Birth

The blood test is far from ready for use, but research is promising. If it works in bigger studies, it could help prevent deaths of babies born prematurely.

Scientists have developed an inexpensive blood test to predict a pregnant woman’s due date and possibly identify women who are at risk of giving birth prematurely.

The research, which is still preliminary and involved small numbers of women, was led by a prominent pioneer in the field of genetic blood testing, Stephen Quake at Stanford University, who said the test could eventually provide a low-cost method of gauging the gestational age of a developing fetus.pregnancy blood test

The test, which detects changes in RNA circulating in a pregnant woman’s blood, estimated due dates within two weeks in nearly half the cases, making it as accurate as the current, more expensive method, ultrasound, and more accurate than guesses based on a woman’s last menstrual period.

Using a similar analysis of RNA in blood from eight women who delivered prematurely, the researchers were able to correctly classify six of their pregnancies as preterm. If much larger studies achieve comparable results, the test could become a tool to help prevent unnecessary induction of labor or Cesarean deliveries, and could possibly help save babies would have died because they were born too early.

Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death in the United States. And 15 million babies a year are born prematurely around the world.

“I think it’s really a very exciting study that suggests an approach that may have a lot of potential for predicting preterm delivery,” said Dr. Louis Muglia, director of the Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center at the University of Cincinnati. “It can certainly help you understand where the baby is in maturity,” he said, which could aid doctors in gauging when to deliver babies of women who go into unexpected early labor.

In the study, published Thursday in the journal Science, the team, which was co-led by Dr. Mads Melbye, who runs the Statens Serum Institute in Denmark, analyzed the blood of 31 Danish women taken every week throughout their pregnancies, which were all full-term. The researchers studied genes linked to the placenta, the maternal immune system and the fetal liver, and found nine of those genes produce RNA signals that change distinctly as pregnancy progresses.

“RNA is what’s happening in the cells at any given moment,” said Dr. Quake, who is also co-president of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, which funded the study, along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others. “We had this idea that we could make a molecular clock to see how these things change over time and it should allow you to measure gestational age and see where things are in pregnancy.”

by Pam Belluck, New York Times, June 7, 2018

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New Report: Continued Attacks Against LGBT Families Harm Children

As the three-year anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court marriage decision in Obergefell v. Hodges nears, two more states have passed legislation allowing taxpayer-funded child welfare organizations to discriminate against prospective families.

new report shows that these state laws are just the tip of the iceberg, and outlines how stigma, discrimination, and systematic attempts to undermine marriage equality harm the estimated 300,000 children raised by same-sex couples and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parents.

Coauthored by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and the Family Equality Council, Putting Children at Risk: How Efforts to Undermine Marriage Equality Harm Children examines two overarching strategies to undermine marriage for same-sex couples and protections for LGBT parents, and shows how these coordinated efforts pose a profound threat to the children in LGBT families. First, some government officials, state legislators, and courts have refused to fully recognize the marriages of same-sex couples and their relationship with their children. Second, there is an increase in individuals, businesses, child welfare providers, healthcare providers, government contractors, and even government employees claiming they have a right to discriminate not just against LGBT people, but also against the children of LGBT people, because of their religious beliefs. These license to discriminate efforts are reflected in legislation, court cases, and agency guidance around the country.

Just this year, two states – Oklahoma and Kansas – have passed laws allowing child welfare agencies to discriminate against adopting families, leaving the nation’s most vulnerable children with fewer prospective families. And later this month, the Supreme Court is expected to rule in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which has the potential to undo decades of nondiscrimination laws by allowing businesses to pick and choose which customers to serve. For children raised by LGBT parents in particular, the stakes are high. A same-sex couple could be refused pregnancy and birth healthcare services, a child with two mothers could be denied entrance to their local preschool, a child could be refused critical medical treatment because she was denied an accurate birth certificate listing both parents, or a qualified, loving same-sex couple could be rejected from fostering a child in need. In fact, as outlined in the report, all of these scenarios have already happened.

“It’s a sad day when laws prioritize politics over the well-being of children,” said Ineke Mushovic, MAP executive director. “Instead, we’re seeing a focus on laws that allow doctors to refuse to treat infants if they disapprove of the parents, that allow childcare facilities to discriminate against and kick out toddlers, and that would rather see kids move from foster home to foster home than be permanently placed with a loving, qualified same-sex couple.”

by The Seattle Lesbian, June 4, 2018

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Transgender People’s Brains Are Wired Like Those of Gender They Identify With, New Study Shows

The brains of transgender people are wired in a way that matches the gender they identify with rather than their biological sex, according to a new study. 

Researchers found that whether a person identifies as transgender could be tied to how their brains develop in the womb. A person might identify as transgender when the gender they are assigned at birth according to their sex does not match how they feel inside. For instance, a person with a penis who is told they are a boy at birth could later grow up to identify as a woman. trans

To arrive at their findings, researchers at the VU University Medical Center in the Netherlands analyzed the brain activity of young transgender people using MRI scans. Around 160 young people were involved in the small study, including adolescent boys and girls with gender dysphoria.

The team assessed how their brains changed in response to a pheromone that prompts gender-specific activity in the organ. They found that the transgender adolescents had parallels with the brain activity of cisgender participants of the same gender. Cisgender is the term used to describe a person who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth. 

Professor Julie Bakker, an expert in neuroendocrinology at the University of Liege and lead author of the study, told Newsweek: “The earlier it [being transgender] is detected, the better the outcome of the treatment.

by Kashmira Gander, Newsweek.com, May 22, 2018

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All Evidence Shows That Children of Gay Parents Do Just as Well as Their Peers

Multiple studies have been conducted over the years, countless research has been carried out and endless debates have been had, all to show one thing.

That the children of gay parents do just as well as the children of straight parents. The myth that kids need a mum and a dad to have a fulfilled childhood has been repeatedly, conclusively disproved – so why is it still so pervasive?studies show kid of gay parents do great

Such views are ultimately rooted in outdated notions of what constitutes a good upbringing, stemming from conservative ideals of the ‘nuclear family’, with a mum, a dad and 2.4 children. In many cases, objection to LGBT families is motivated by homophobia as well – a belief that there is something different, and therefore undesirable or lacking, about same-sex parenting. But last year, researchers conducted one of the most comprehensive studies into same-sex parenting that has ever been carried out.

Scientists looked into more than three decades worth of peer-reviewed research into how the children in same-sex-parented families did in comparison to their peers from opposite-sex-parented families. The wide-ranging study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia in October 2017, found what had already been shown in multiple previous studies – that the kids do just as well.

Among the studies reviewed were the 2017 public policy research portal at Columbia Law School in the US, which itself looked at 79 studies investigating the well-being of children raised by gay parents; a 2014 American Sociological Association review of more than 40 studies, which found that children fared just as well in a number of areas; and the Australian Institute of Family Studies’ review from 2013, which found that there was no evidence of harm.

Researchers behind the study, titled ‘The Kids are OK: it is Discrimination Not Same-Sex Parents that Harms Children’, said at the time: ‘The findings of these reviews reflects a broader consensus within the fields of family studies and psychology. It is family processes – parenting quality, parental wellbeing, the quality of and satisfaction with relationships in the family – rather than family structures that make a more meaningful difference to children’s wellbeing and positive development.’

They added that studies that had shown poor outcomes for LGBT-parented children had been widely criticised for their limited methodologies.

by Ashtitha Nagesh, February 18, 2018 – Metro.co.uk

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Transgender Woman Breast-Feeds Baby After Hospital Induces Lactation

When a transgender woman told doctors at a hospital in New York that she wanted to breast-feed her pregnant partner’s baby, they put her on a regimen of drugs that included an anti-nausea medication licensed in Britain and Canada but banned in the United States.

Within a month, according to the journal Transgender Health, the woman, 30, who was born male, was producing droplets of milk. Within three months — two weeks before the baby’s due date — she had increased her production to eight ounces of milk a day.three-parent baby

In the end, the study showed, “she was able to achieve sufficient breast milk volume to be the sole source of nourishment for her child for six weeks,” according to the journal.

Dr. Tamar Reisman and Zil Goldstein, a nurse practitioner, of the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York, say the case illustrates that, in some circumstances, modest but functional lactation can be induced in transgender women who did not give birth or undergo surgery.

“We believe that this is the first formal report in the medical literature of induced lactation in a transgender woman,” said the study’s authors, Dr. Reisman and Ms. Goldstein, a transgender activist and program director at the center. They were not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

New York Times by Ceylon Yeginsu, February 15, 2018

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Why a patchwork of laws makes surrogacy more challenging in Atlantic Canada

On a wall in Terri Taylor’s home, opposite the window that looks onto the quiet Fredericton cul-de-sac on which generations of her family have grown up, there’s a series of family photos.

Some of them are pictures of her own children, ranging from their teen years to when they were toddlers.

Others feature twin baby girls, the much longed-for children of Iain and Haley, an Australian couple Taylor met through a surrogacy website.

Taylor isn’t related to the twins, Freya and Jenna — nor is she related to their parents.Canada

But she does consider them part of her family.

‘We grew our own family’

Taylor points to a picture of herself, her children, Haley and Iain, and the twins clustered together at the centre of the arrangement. This one is more than just another family photo — it’s also the outcome of her decision to become a surrogate.

“I didn’t just grow two babies, we grew our own family, so that centre one is a pretty good representation of that — my new and expanded family.”

In Canada, hundreds of women every year serve as surrogates for other people, and the number is increasing; when the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society started collecting statistics in 2001, around 100 women a year were acting as gestational surrogates, meaning they had no genetic relationship to the babies they were carrying.

Now that figure stands at more than 500, but demand still far outstrips supply.

For Taylor, serving as a surrogate was an extension of the same drive to care for others that had characterized her personal and professional life.

“I was never going to be rich, I was never going to donate a wing to a children’s hospital, so this was a way for me to give back.”

By Moira Donovan, CBC News, January 7, 2018

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Gay Couples Are As Happy, If Not Happier, Than Straight Couples, Study Finds

According to a new study released last week, gay and lesbian couples are as happy as, if not happier than, straight couples.

Researchers questioned 25,000 people in the United Kingdom and over 9,000 in Australia. The data was collected before either country had marriage equality.Mississippi same-sex adoption

“Our results indicate that the relationship quality of gay and lesbian couples is as high as, if not higher than, that of heterosexual couples,” the researchers wrote. “This can be taken as evidence that gay and lesbian couples are well placed to raise children in warm and loving environments.”

The study, titled Sexual Identity and Relationship Quality in Australia and the United Kingdom, was conducted by Francisco Perales and Janeen Baxter from the University of Queensland.

“Policy initiatives that raise awareness about the equally high quality of the intimate relationships of gay and lesbian individuals are needed to combat deep-rooted and erroneous social perceptions of such relationships as conflictual, unhappy and dysfunctional,” they wrote.

OnTopMag.com, December 18, 2017

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Woman With Transplanted Uterus Gives Birth, the First in the U.S.

For the first time in the United States, a woman who had a uterus transplant has given birth.

The mother, who was born without a uterus, received the transplant from a living donor last year at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, and had a baby boy there last month, the hospital said on Friday.Uterus

At the family’s request, their name, hometown and the date of the birth are being withheld to protect their privacy, according to Julie Smith, a spokeswoman for the hospital, which is part of Baylor Scott & White Health.

Since 2014, eight other babies have been born to women who had uterus transplants, all in Sweden, at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg.

A new frontier, uterus transplants are seen as a source of hope for women who cannot give birth because they were born without a uterus or had to have it removed because of cancer, other illness or complications from childbirth. Researchers estimate that in the United States, 50,000 women might be candidates.

The transplants are meant to be temporary, left in place just long enough for a woman to have one or two children, and then removed so she can stop taking the immune-suppressing drugs needed to prevent organ rejection.

Dr. Liza Johannesson, a uterus transplant surgeon who left the Swedish team to join Baylor’s group, said the birth in Dallas was particularly important because it showed that success was not limited to the hospital in Gothenburg.

By Denise Grady, New York Times, December 2, 2017

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Australians Say ‘Yes’ to Same-Sex Marriage, Clearing Path for Legalization

A solid majority of Australians voted in favor of same-sex marriage in a historic survey that, while not binding, paves the way for Parliament to legally recognize the unions of gay and lesbian couples.

Of 12.7 million Australians who took part in the government survey, 61.6 percent voted yes and 38.4 percent voted no, officials announced on Wednesday morning. Participation was high, with 79.5 percent of voting-age Australians sending back their postal ballots.

“The Australian people have spoken, and they have voted overwhelmingly ‘yes’ for marriage equality,” said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who called the survey in a move described by advocates as a delay tactic devised to appease his party’s far-right faction. “They voted ‘yes’ for fairness, they voted ‘yes’ for commitment, they voted ‘yes’ for love.”Australia gay marriage

The high turnout and unequivocal result amounted to a rebuke for Australia’s most conservative politicians, many of whom saw a majority of their constituents vote to support same-sex marriage despite their arguments against it.

Proponents of gay rights spent the day celebrating. They gathered in cities around the country to watch news broadcasts of the survey results. The largest crowd, at Prince Alfred Park in Sydney, broke into cheers, with hugs, dancing and tears, as soon as the news was announced.

“This is our proudest moment as gay and lesbian Australians,” said Chris Lewis, 60, an artist from Sydney, who waved a large rainbow flag he bought in San Francisco about 30 years ago. “Finally I can be proud of my country.”

But many Australians said it was also late in coming.

Annika Lowry, 42, who brought her 4-year-old daughter to the celebration, said the vote revealed a widening gap between Australia’s political class and voters who have been demanding same-sex marriage legislation for years.

“It was not just about us,” she said. “It’s for our kids, so that they know equality is important.”

Alex Greenwich, a state lawmaker from New South Wales and the co-chairman of Australian Marriage Equality, an advocacy group, said the vote “shows that Australians have truly come together in support of their gay and lesbian mates and have said that everybody should be able to have the freedom to marry.”

Yet another study finds kids with same-sex parents do just as well as those with straight parents

More than a third of Americans think LGB people should not be able to adopt kids

Kids with same-sex parents are doing just fine, according to a new study.

In news shocking no one but homophobes, the study analyzed data from the American National Health Interview Survey from 2013 to 2015 and proved kids with same-sex parents do just as well as kids with straight parents.

The researchers looked at data for around 21,000 children between the ages of 4 and 17. The survey analyzed the emotional, mental and psychological health of both children and parents.

It’s the latest research in a flood of previous studies proving same-sex parents are just as qualified in raising kids. In fact, some studies suggest they’re even better.

This study found there is no increased difficulties for kids with homosexual partners. It did, however, find kids with bisexual parents had slightly poorer scores.

Researchers then took into account the psychological stress suffered by the parents and the difference vanished.

They theorize this is probably a result of the hardships parents face in a society that stigmatize their sexual orientation.

The authors suggest a ‘more inclusive society might help reduce that stress, and improve the mental wellbeing of kids with bisexual parents.’

Lead author Dr Jerel Calzo, from the San Diego State University Graduate School of Public Health said: ‘As lesbian, gay, and bisexual parented families become more visible, the findings bolster previous studies revealing that children raised in these families have comparable psychological well-being compared with children raised by heterosexual parents.

‘In addition, the results indicate the need for continued investment in strategies to prevent sexual orientation–based discrimination. And to support sexual minority parents who may experience minority stress,’ he said.

gaystarnews.com, November 10, 2017 by James Besanvalle

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