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Concept: Gestation


This study compared fetal response to musical stimuli applied intravaginally (intravaginal music [IVM]) with application via emitters placed on the mother’s abdomen (abdominal music [ABM]). Responses were quantified by recording facial movements identified on 3D/4D ultrasound. One hundred and six normal pregnancies between 14 and 39 weeks of gestation were randomized to 3D/4D ultrasound with: (a) ABM with standard headphones (flute monody at 98.6 dB); (b) IVM with a specially designed device emitting the same monody at 53.7 dB; or © intravaginal vibration (IVV; 125 Hz) at 68 dB with the same device. Facial movements were quantified at baseline, during stimulation, and for 5 minutes after stimulation was discontinued. In fetuses at a gestational age of >16 weeks, IVM-elicited mouthing (MT) and tongue expulsion (TE) in 86.7% and 46.6% of fetuses, respectively, with significant differences when compared with ABM and IVV (p = 0.002 and p = 0.004, respectively). There were no changes from baseline in ABM and IVV. TE occurred ≥5 times in 5 minutes in 13.3% with IVM. IVM was related with higher occurrence of MT (odds ratio = 10.980; 95% confidence interval = 3.105-47.546) and TE (odds ratio = 10.943; 95% confidence interval = 2.568-77.037). The frequency of TE with IVM increased significantly with gestational age (p = 0.024). Fetuses at 16-39 weeks of gestation respond to intravaginally emitted music with repetitive MT and TE movements not observed with ABM or IVV. Our findings suggest that neural pathways participating in the auditory-motor system are developed as early as gestational week 16. These findings might contribute to diagnostic methods for prenatal hearing screening, and research into fetal neurological stimulation.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Embryo, Prenatal development, Fetus, Uterus, Obstetrics, Gestation, Gestational age


Background Despite evidence that genetic factors contribute to the duration of gestation and the risk of preterm birth, robust associations with genetic variants have not been identified. We used large data sets that included the gestational duration to determine possible genetic associations. Methods We performed a genomewide association study in a discovery set of samples obtained from 43,568 women of European ancestry using gestational duration as a continuous trait and term or preterm (<37 weeks) birth as a dichotomous outcome. We used samples from three Nordic data sets (involving a total of 8643 women) to test for replication of genomic loci that had significant genomewide association (P<5.0×10(-8)) or an association with suggestive significance (P<1.0×10(-6)) in the discovery set. Results In the discovery and replication data sets, four loci (EBF1, EEFSEC, AGTR2, and WNT4) were significantly associated with gestational duration. Functional analysis showed that an implicated variant in WNT4 alters the binding of the estrogen receptor. The association between variants in ADCY5 and RAP2C and gestational duration had suggestive significance in the discovery set and significant evidence of association in the replication sets; these variants also showed genomewide significance in a joint analysis. Common variants in EBF1, EEFSEC, and AGTR2 showed association with preterm birth with genomewide significance. An analysis of mother-infant dyads suggested that these variants act at the level of the maternal genome. Conclusions In this genomewide association study, we found that variants at the EBF1, EEFSEC, AGTR2, WNT4, ADCY5, and RAP2C loci were associated with gestational duration and variants at the EBF1, EEFSEC, and AGTR2 loci with preterm birth. Previously established roles of these genes in uterine development, maternal nutrition, and vascular control support their mechanistic involvement. (Funded by the March of Dimes and others.).

Concepts: Gene, Childbirth, Genetics, Genome, Genome-wide association study, The Association, Cervix, Gestation


BACKGROUND: Pregnant women consume caffeine daily. The aim of this study was to examine the association between maternal caffeine intake from different sources and (a) gestational length, particularly the risk for spontaneous preterm delivery (PTD), and (b) birth weight (BW) and the baby being small for gestational age (SGA). METHODS: This study is based on the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. A total of 59,123 women with uncomplicated pregnancies giving birth to a live singleton were identified. Caffeine intake from different sources was self-reported at gestational weeks 17, 22 and 30. Spontaneous PTD was defined as spontaneous onset of delivery between 22+0 and 36+6 weeks (n = 1,451). As there is no consensus, SGA was defined according to ultrasound-based (Marsal, n = 856), population-based (Skjaerven, n = 4,503) and customized (Gardosi, n = 4,733) growth curves. RESULTS: The main caffeine source was coffee, but tea and chocolate were the main sources in women with low caffeine intake. Median pre-pregnancy caffeine intake was 126 mg/day (IQR 40 to 254), 44 mg/day (13 to 104) at gestational week 17 and 62 mg/day (21 to 130) at gestational week 30. Coffee caffeine, but not caffeine from other sources, was associated with prolonged gestation (8 h/100 mg/day, P <10-7). Neither total nor coffee caffeine was associated with spontaneous PTD risk. Caffeine intake from different sources, measured repeatedly during pregnancy, was associated with lower BW (Marsal -28 g, Skjaerven -25 g, Gardosi -21 g per 100 mg/day additional total caffeine for a baby with expected BW 3,600 g, P <10-25). Caffeine intake of 200 to 300 mg/day increased the odds for SGA (OR Marsal 1.62, Skjaerven 1.44, Gardosi 1.27, P <0.05), compared to 0 to 50 mg/day. CONCLUSIONS: Coffee, but not caffeine, consumption was associated with marginally increased gestational length but not with spontaneous PTD risk. Caffeine intake was consistently associated with decreased BW and increased odds of SGA. The association was strengthened by concordant results for caffeine sources, time of survey and different SGA definitions. This might have clinical implications as even caffeine consumption below the recommended maximum (200 mg/day in the Nordic countries and USA, 300 mg/day according to the World Health Organization (WHO)) was associated with increased risk for SGA.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Embryo, Fetus, Obstetrics, Caffeine, Gestation, Gestational age


Domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) engage in a variety of relationships with humans and can be conditioned to engage in numerous behaviors using Pavlovian and operant methods Increasingly cat cognition research is providing evidence of their complex socio-cognitive and problem solving abilities. Nonetheless, it is still common belief that cats are not especially sociable or trainable. This disconnect may be due, in part, to a lack of knowledge of what stimuli cats prefer, and thus may be most motivated to work for. The current study investigated domestic cat preferences at the individual and population level using a free operant preference assessment. Adult cats from two populations (pet and shelter) were presented with three stimuli within each of the following four categories: human social interaction, food, toy, and scent. Proportion of time interacting with each stimulus was recorded. The single most-preferred stimulus from each of the four categories were simultaneously presented in a final session to determine each cat’s most-preferred stimulus overall. Although there was clear individual variability in cat preference, social interaction with humans was the most-preferred stimulus category for the majority of cats, followed by food. This was true for cats in both the pet and shelter population. Future research can examine the use of preferred stimuli as enrichment in applied settings and assess individual cats' motivation to work for their most-preferred stimulus as a measure of reinforcer efficacy.

Concepts: Sociology, Mammal, Motivation, Cat, Gestation, Preference, Felidae, Felis


Uterus transplantation is the first available treatment for absolute uterine infertility, which is caused by absence of the uterus or the presence of a non-functional uterus. Eleven human uterus transplantation attempts have been done worldwide but no livebirth has yet been reported.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Uterus, Gestation


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of suggesting coitus as a safe and effective means to expedite labour on pregnancy duration and requirement for labour induction. DESIGN: A randomised trial. SETTING: Antenatal clinic in a university hospital in Malaysia. POPULATION: Women from 35 weeks of gestation with an uncomplicated singleton pregnancy. METHODS: The advise-coitus arm was counselled that coitus at term is a safe, natural and effective means to initiate labour and to avoid labour induction. The control arm was told coitus was safe. Both arms were asked to record coital activity. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Pregnancy duration and labour induction. RESULTS: The intervention to delivery interval (mean ± SD) was 3.2 ± 1.4 versus 3.3 ± 1.3 weeks (P = 0.417), with a gestational age at delivery of 39.4 ± 1.2 versus 39.5 ± 1.2 weeks (P = 0.112), and with labour induction rates of 126/574 (22.0%) versus 120/576 (20.8%) (P = 0.666) for the advise-coitus and control arms, respectively, with no statistical difference between the groups. Coitus prior to delivery was more often reported in the advise-coitus arm compared with the control arm: 481/574 (85.3%) versus 458/576 (79.9%) (RR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1-2.0, P = 0.019). Also, the median (interquartile range) reported number of coital acts of 3 (2-5) versus 2 (1-4) (P = 0.006) was higher for the advise-coitus arm. Other pregnancy and neonatal outcomes did not differ between the groups. CONCLUSIONS: Labour onset and labour induction did not differ in the advise-coitus arm.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Embryo, Prenatal development, Fetus, Obstetrics, Gestation, Gestational age



Fishes belonging to the family Clinidae in South Africa display super-embryonation, a rare reproductive mode were females gestate broods at different gestational stages, but little is known regarding the mating systems of this family. Here we tested the hypothesis that multiple males would contribute not only to the offspring of each female, but that several males would contribute to each brood, by sampling Muraenoclinus dorsalis from three sampling locations along the west and south-west coast of South Africa. Larval (n = 97) and maternal (n = 14) genotpyes, generated with newly developed microsatellites, were used to estimate the number of potential mates per female. Our results show that up to 78% of females displayed multiple mating with an average of 2·1-2·2 males. In addition, 39-42% of females displayed polyandry with an average of 1·5-1·6 sires per brood. This study provides the evidence for multiple mating and polyandry within a clinid fish characterized by super-embryonation that offers important baseline information regarding rare reproductive strategies, highlighting several gaps in our knowledge concerning clinid reproduction and mating systems.

Concepts: Human, Male, Reproduction, Female, Sex, Gestation, Hermaphrodite, Microsatellite


Unexpected clinical deterioration before 34 weeks gestation is an undesired course in early-onset pre-eclampsia. To safely prolong preterm gestation, accurate and timely prediction of complications is required.

Concepts: Gestation, Thought experiment


Virtually all agricultural communities worldwide are exposed to agricultural pesticides. Yet, the health consequences of such exposure are poorly understood, and the scientific literature remains ambiguous. Using individual birth and demographic characteristics for over 500 000 birth observations between 1997-2011 in the agriculturally dominated San Joaquin Valley, California, we statistically investigate if residential agricultural pesticide exposure during gestation, by trimester, and by toxicity influences birth weight, gestational length, or birth abnormalities. Overall, our analysis indicates that agricultural pesticide exposure increases adverse birth outcomes by 5-9%, but only among the population exposed to very high quantities of pesticides (e.g., top 5th percentile, i.e., ~4200 kg applied over gestation). Thus, policies and interventions targeting the extreme right tail of the pesticide distribution near human habitation could largely eliminate the adverse birth outcomes associated with agricultural pesticide exposure documented in this study.The health consequences of exposure to pesticides are uncertain and subject to much debate. Here, the effect of exposure during pregnancy is investigated in an agriculturally dominated residential area, showing that an increase in adverse birth outcomes is observed with very high levels of pesticide exposure.

Concepts: Scientific method, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Human, Demography, California, Pesticide, Gestation