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Concept: Fetus


Maternal vitamin D status has been associated with bone mass of offspring in many, but not all, observational studies. However, maternal vitamin D repletion during pregnancy has not yet been proven to improve offspring bone mass in a randomised controlled trial. We aimed to assess whether neonates born to mothers supplemented with vitamin D during pregnancy have greater whole-body bone mineral content (BMC) at birth than those of mothers who had not received supplementation.

Concepts: Vitamin D, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Fetus, Randomized controlled trial, Breastfeeding


Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, occurs in 0.3-2% of pregnancies and is associated with maternal and fetal morbidity. The cause of HG remains unknown, but familial aggregation and results of twin studies suggest that understanding the genetic contribution is essential for comprehending the disease etiology. Here, we conduct a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for binary (HG) and ordinal (severity of nausea and vomiting) phenotypes of pregnancy complications. Two loci, chr19p13.11 and chr4q12, are genome-wide significant (p < 5 × 10-8) in both association scans and are replicated in an independent cohort. The genes implicated at these two loci are GDF15 and IGFBP7 respectively, both known to be involved in placentation, appetite, and cachexia. While proving the casual roles of GDF15 and IGFBP7 in nausea and vomiting of pregnancy requires further study, this GWAS provides insights into the genetic risk factors contributing to the disease.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Genetics, Fetus, Genome-wide association study, Vomiting, Nausea, Hyperemesis gravidarum, Morning sickness


In the developed world, extreme prematurity is the leading cause of neonatal mortality and morbidity due to a combination of organ immaturity and iatrogenic injury. Until now, efforts to extend gestation using extracorporeal systems have achieved limited success. Here we report the development of a system that incorporates a pumpless oxygenator circuit connected to the fetus of a lamb via an umbilical cord interface that is maintained within a closed ‘amniotic fluid’ circuit that closely reproduces the environment of the womb. We show that fetal lambs that are developmentally equivalent to the extreme premature human infant can be physiologically supported in this extra-uterine device for up to 4 weeks. Lambs on support maintain stable haemodynamics, have normal blood gas and oxygenation parameters and maintain patency of the fetal circulation. With appropriate nutritional support, lambs on the system demonstrate normal somatic growth, lung maturation and brain growth and myelination.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Blood, Embryo, Fetus, Embryology, Umbilical cord


A 30-year-old woman presented with an uncomplicated pregnancy until ultrasonography at 19 weeks revealed severe oligohydramnios and a fetus that appeared to be extrauterine. Imaging confirmed an abdominal ectopic pregnancy, with no uterine wall visible surrounding the fetus.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Embryo, Fetus, Uterus, Obstetrics, Ectopic pregnancy, Oligohydramnios


Although antibiotics are widely used during pregnancy, evidence regarding their fetal safety remains limited. Our aim was to quantify the association between antibiotic exposure during pregnancy and risk of spontaneous abortion.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Fetus, Obstetrics, Fertility, Abortion, Miscarriage, 1960s music groups


Syphilis in pregnancy imposes a significant global health and economic burden. More than half of cases result in serious adverse events, including infant mortality and infection. The annual global burden from mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of syphilis is estimated at 3.6 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and $309 million in medical costs. Syphilis screening and treatment is simple, effective, and affordable, yet, worldwide, most pregnant women do not receive these services. We assessed cost-effectiveness of scaling-up syphilis screening and treatment in existing antenatal care (ANC) programs in various programmatic, epidemiologic, and economic contexts.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Fetus, Obstetrics, Gestational age, Pharmacoeconomics, Global health


To investigate if the lack of gestational age correction may explain some of the school failure seen in ex-preterm infants.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Fetus, Gestational age


Internationally, a typical model of maternity care is a medically led system with varying levels of midwifery input. New Zealand has a midwife-led model of care, and there are movements in other countries to adopt such a system. There is a paucity of systemic evaluation that formally investigates safety-related outcomes in relationship to midwife-led care within an entire maternity service. The main objective of this study was to compare major adverse perinatal outcomes between midwife-led and medical-led maternity care in New Zealand.

Concepts: Cohort study, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Fetus, Obstetrics, Retrospective, Gestational age


Prenatal ethanol exposure is the leading preventable cause of congenital mental disability. Whereas a diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) requires identification of a specific pattern of craniofacial dysmorphology, most individuals with behavioral and neurological sequelae of heavy prenatal ethanol exposure do not exhibit these defining facial characteristics. Here, a novel integration of MRI and dense surface modeling-based shape analysis was applied to characterize concurrent face-brain phenotypes in C57Bl/6J fetuses exposed to ethanol on gestational day (GD)7 or GD8.5. The facial phenotype resulting from ethanol exposure depended upon stage of insult and was predictive of unique patterns of corresponding brain abnormalities. Ethanol exposure on GD7 produced a constellation of dysmorphic facial features characteristic of human FAS, including severe midfacial hypoplasia, shortening of the palpebral fissures, an elongated upper lip, and deficient philtrum. In contrast, ethanol exposure on GD8.5 caused mild midfacial hypoplasia and palpebral fissure shortening, a shortened upper lip, and a preserved philtrum. These distinct, stage-specific facial phenotypes were associated with unique volumetric and shape abnormalities of the septal region, pituitary, and olfactory bulbs. By demonstrating that early prenatal ethanol exposure can cause more than one temporally-specific pattern of defects, these findings illustrate the need for an expansion of current diagnostic criteria to better capture the full range of facial and brain dysmorphology in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Concepts: Alcohol, Pregnancy, Embryo, Fetus, Upper lip, Fetal alcohol syndrome, Philtrum, Palpebral fissure


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a leading cause of liver-related morbidity and mortality (1). Transmission of HCV is primarily via parenteral blood exposure, and HCV can be transmitted vertically from mother to child. Vertical transmission occurs in 5.8% (95% confidence interval = 4.2%-7.8%) of infants born to women who are infected only with HCV and in up to twice as many infants born to women who are also infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (2) or who have high HCV viral loads (3,4); there is currently no recommended intervention to prevent transmission of infection from mother to child (3). Increased reported incidence of HCV infection among persons aged ≤30 years (5,6) with similar increases among women and men in this age group (6), raises concern about increases in the number of pregnant women with HCV infection, and in the number of infants who could be exposed to HCV at birth. Data from one large commercial laboratory and birth certificate data were used to investigate trends in HCV detection among women of childbearing age,* HCV testing among children aged ≤2 years, and the proportions of infants born to HCV-infected women nationally and in Kentucky, the state with the highest incidence of acute HCV infection during 2011-2014 (6). During 2011-2014, commercial laboratory data indicated that national rates of HCV detection (antibody or RNA positivity(†)) among women of childbearing age increased 22%, and HCV testing (antibody or RNA) among children aged ≤2 years increased 14%; birth certificate data indicated that the proportion of infants born to HCV-infected mothers increased 68%, from 0.19% to 0.32%. During the same time in Kentucky, the HCV detection rate among women of childbearing age increased >200%, HCV testing among children aged ≤2 years increased 151%, and the proportion of infants born to HCV-infected women increased 124%, from 0.71% to 1.59%. Increases in the rate of HCV detection among women of childbearing age suggest a potential risk for vertical transmission of HCV. These findings highlight the importance of following current CDC recommendations to identify, counsel, and test persons at risk for HCV infection (1,7), including pregnant women, as well as consider developing public health policies for routine HCV testing of pregnant women, and expanding current policies for testing and monitoring children born to HCV-infected women. Expansion of HCV reporting and surveillance requirements will enhance case identification and prevention strategies.

Concepts: Immune system, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Fetus, Infection, Hepatitis C, Mother, Hepatitis C virus