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Concept: Uterus


A widespread epidemic of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection was reported in 2015 in South and Central America and the Caribbean. A major concern associated with this infection is the apparent increased incidence of microcephaly in fetuses born to mothers infected with ZIKV. In this report, we describe the case of an expectant mother who had a febrile illness with rash at the end of the first trimester of pregnancy while she was living in Brazil. Ultrasonography performed at 29 weeks of gestation revealed microcephaly with calcifications in the fetal brain and placenta. After the mother requested termination of the pregnancy, a fetal autopsy was performed. Micrencephaly (an abnormally small brain) was observed, with almost complete agyria, hydrocephalus, and multifocal dystrophic calcifications in the cortex and subcortical white matter, with associated cortical displacement and mild focal inflammation. ZIKV was found in the fetal brain tissue on reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-PCR) assay, with consistent findings on electron microscopy. The complete genome of ZIKV was recovered from the fetal brain.

Concepts: Cerebellum, Uterus, Gestational age, Infection, Cerebral cortex, Fetus, Embryo, Pregnancy


Background Zika virus (ZIKV) has been linked to neonatal microcephaly. To characterize the spectrum of ZIKV disease in pregnancy, we followed patients in Rio de Janeiro to describe clinical manifestations in mothers and repercussions of acute ZIKV infection in fetuses. Methods We enrolled pregnant women in whom a rash had developed within the previous 5 days and tested blood and urine specimens for ZIKV by reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction assays. We followed the women prospectively and collected clinical and ultrasonographic data. Results A total of 88 women were enrolled from September 2015 through February 2016; of these 88 women, 72 (82%) tested positive for ZIKV in blood, urine, or both. The timing of acute ZIKV infection ranged from 5 to 38 weeks of gestation. Predominant clinical features included pruritic descending macular or maculopapular rash, arthralgias, conjunctival injection, and headache; 28% had fever (short-term and low-grade). Women who were positive for ZIKV were more likely than those who were negative for the virus to have maculopapular rash (44% vs. 12%, P=0.02), conjunctival involvement (58% vs. 13%, P=0.002), and lymphadenopathy (40% vs. 7%, P=0.02). Fetal ultrasonography was performed in 42 ZIKV-positive women (58%) and in all ZIKV-negative women. Fetal abnormalities were detected by Doppler ultrasonography in 12 of the 42 ZIKV-positive women (29%) and in none of the 16 ZIKV-negative women. Adverse findings included fetal deaths at 36 and 38 weeks of gestation (2 fetuses), in utero growth restriction with or without microcephaly (5 fetuses), ventricular calcifications or other central nervous system (CNS) lesions (7 fetuses), and abnormal amniotic fluid volume or cerebral or umbilical artery flow (7 fetuses). To date, 8 of the 42 women in whom fetal ultrasonography was performed have delivered their babies, and the ultrasonographic findings have been confirmed. Conclusions Despite mild clinical symptoms, ZIKV infection during pregnancy appears to be associated with grave outcomes, including fetal death, placental insufficiency, fetal growth restriction, and CNS injury.

Concepts: Amniotic fluid, Medical ultrasonography, Uterus, Embryo, Gestational age, Obstetrics, Fetus, Pregnancy


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


In the third trimester of pregnancy, the human fetus has the capacity to process perceptual information [1-3]. With advances in 4D ultrasound technology, detailed assessment of fetal behavior [4] is now possible. Furthermore, modeling of intrauterine conditions has indicated a substantially greater luminance within the uterus than previously thought [5]. Consequently, light conveying perceptual content could be projected through the uterine wall and perceived by the fetus, dependent on how light interfaces with maternal tissue. We do know that human infants at birth show a preference to engage with a top-heavy, face-like stimulus when contrasted with all other forms of stimuli [6, 7]. However, the viability of performing such an experiment based on visual stimuli projected through the uterine wall with fetal participants is not currently known. We examined fetal head turns to visually presented upright and inverted face-like stimuli. Here we show that the fetus in the third trimester of pregnancy is more likely to engage with upright configural stimuli when contrasted to inverted visual stimuli, in a manner similar to results with newborn participants. The current study suggests that postnatal experience is not required for this preference. In addition, we describe a new method whereby it is possible to deliver specific visual stimuli to the fetus. This new technique provides an important new pathway for the assessment of prenatal visual perceptual capacities.

Concepts: 3D ultrasound, Abortion, Infant, Embryo, Childbirth, Uterus, Fetus, Pregnancy


Background Preterm preeclampsia is an important cause of maternal and perinatal death and complications. It is uncertain whether the intake of low-dose aspirin during pregnancy reduces the risk of preterm preeclampsia. Methods In this multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we randomly assigned 1776 women with singleton pregnancies who were at high risk for preterm preeclampsia to receive aspirin, at a dose of 150 mg per day, or placebo from 11 to 14 weeks of gestation until 36 weeks of gestation. The primary outcome was delivery with preeclampsia before 37 weeks of gestation. The analysis was performed according to the intention-to-treat principle. Results A total of 152 women withdrew consent during the trial, and 4 were lost to follow up, which left 798 participants in the aspirin group and 822 in the placebo group. Preterm preeclampsia occurred in 13 participants (1.6%) in the aspirin group, as compared with 35 (4.3%) in the placebo group (odds ratio in the aspirin group, 0.38; 95% confidence interval, 0.20 to 0.74; P=0.004). Results were materially unchanged in a sensitivity analysis that took into account participants who had withdrawn or were lost to follow-up. Adherence was good, with a reported intake of 85% or more of the required number of tablets in 79.9% of the participants. There were no significant between-group differences in the incidence of neonatal adverse outcomes or other adverse events. Conclusions Treatment with low-dose aspirin in women at high risk for preterm preeclampsia resulted in a lower incidence of this diagnosis than placebo. (Funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Program and the Fetal Medicine Foundation; EudraCT number, 2013-003778-29 ; Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN13633058 .).

Concepts: European Union, Uterus, Placebo, Obstetrics, Embryo, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Fetus


Childbirth fear is linked with lower labor pain tolerance and worse postpartum adjustment. Empirically validated childbirth preparation options are lacking for pregnant women facing this problem. Mindfulness approaches, now widely disseminated, can alleviate symptoms of both chronic and acute pain and improve psychological adjustment, suggesting potential benefit when applied to childbirth education.

Concepts: Doula, Pain, Randomized controlled trial, Pelvic girdle pain, Obstetrics, Uterus, Pregnancy, Childbirth


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


Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus primarily transmitted to humans by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (1). Zika virus infections have also been documented through intrauterine transmission resulting in congenital infection; intrapartum transmission from a viremic mother to her newborn; sexual transmission; blood transfusion; and laboratory exposure (1-5). Most Zika virus infections are asymptomatic (1,6). Clinical illness, when it occurs, is generally mild and characterized by acute onset of fever, maculopapular rash, arthralgia, or nonpurulent conjunctivitis. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause adverse outcomes such as fetal loss, and microcephaly and other serious brain anomalies (1-3). Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare autoimmune condition affecting the peripheral nervous system, also has been associated with Zika virus infection (1). Following the identification of local transmission of Zika virus in Brazil in May 2015, the virus has continued to spread throughout the Region of the Americas, and travel-associated cases have increased (7). In 2016, Zika virus disease and congenital infections became nationally notifiable conditions in the United States (8). As of September 3, 2016, a total of 2,382 confirmed and probable cases of Zika virus disease with symptom onset during January 1-July 31, 2016, had been reported from 48 of 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Most cases (2,354; 99%) were travel-associated, with either direct travel or an epidemiologic link to a traveler to a Zika virus-affected area. Twenty-eight (1%) cases were reported as locally acquired, including 26 associated with mosquito-borne transmission, one acquired in a laboratory, and one with an unknown mode of transmission. Zika virus disease should be considered in patients with compatible clinical signs or symptoms who traveled to or reside in areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission or who had unprotected sex with someone who traveled to those areas. Health care providers should continue to educate patients, especially pregnant women, about the importance of avoiding infection with Zika virus, and all pregnant women should be assessed for possible Zika virus exposure at each prenatal visit (2).

Concepts: AIDS, Infection, U.S. state, Uterus, Disease, Measles, United States, Pregnancy


BACKGROUND: Numerous studies have documented a profound reduction in alcohol use among pregnant women, whereas research on expectant fathers has been scarce. The aim of this study was to measure changes in alcohol consumption from before pregnancy to 17 weeks in gestation for mothers and fathers, differentiating between parents with and without any previous children, and to measure how level and change in alcohol consumption into early pregnancy was associated with relationship satisfaction. METHODS: The data collection was conducted as part of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. This cohort now includes 108 000 children, 90 700 mothers and 71 500 fathers recruited from 1999 to 2008. The present study comprises 82 362 couples. Alcohol consumption was assessed using a questionnaire including items about usual drinking frequency, quantities, and number of occasions with heavy episodic drinking (HED). Relationship satisfaction was measured by five items scored on a Likert agreement scale. RESULTS: The findings indicate that both mothers and fathers reduce their drinking significantly during pregnancy. Reduction was apparent for all three measures of alcohol consumption. First-time fathers reduced their alcohol consumption more than experienced fathers, from initially higher levels. The gap between the fathers and their pregnant partner was greater for first-time parents compared to parents with previous children. Drinking pre-pregnancy and relationship satisfaction during pregnancy were weakly related within each partner, whereas no association across partners was observed. CONCLUSIONS: Both expectant mothers and fathers changed their alcohol consumption patterns when expecting a child. Almost all mothers stopped drinking, whereas fathers reduced their drinking to a considerable degree. Relationship satisfaction was only slightly related to their drinking patterns. The findings may have important policy implications, mainly with regard to developing alcohol preventive strategies.

Concepts: Alcohol, Embryo, Family, Uterus, Childbirth, Pregnancy, Parent, Mother


BACKGROUND: Noninvasive prenatal detection of common fetal aneuploidies with cell-free DNA from maternal plasma has been achieved with high-throughput next-generation sequencing platforms. Turnaround times for previously tested platforms are still unsatisfactory for clinical applications, however, because of the time spent on sequencing. The development of semiconductor sequencing technology has provided a way to shorten overall run times. We studied the feasibility of using semiconductor sequencing technology for the noninvasive detection of fetal aneuploidy.METHODS: Maternal plasma DNA from 13 pregnant women, corresponding to 4 euploid, 6 trisomy 21 (T21), 2 trisomy 18 (T18), and 1 trisomy 13 (T13) pregnancies, were sequenced on the Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine sequencer platform with 318 chips. The data were analyzed with the T statistic method after correcting for GC bias, and the T value was calculated as an indicator of fetal aneuploidy.RESULTS: We obtained a mean of 3 524 401 high-quality reads per sample, with an efficiency rate of 77.9%. All of the T21, T13, and T18 fetuses could be clearly distinguished from euploid fetuses, and the time spent on library preparation and sequencing was 24 h.CONCLUSIONS: Semiconductor sequencing represents a suitable technology for the noninvasive prenatal detection of fetal aneuploidy. With this platform, sequencing times can be substantially reduced; however, a further larger-scale study is needed to determine the imprecision of noninvasive fetal aneuploidy detection with this system.

Concepts: Fertility, Aneuploidy, Infant, Embryo, Fetus, Abortion, Uterus, Pregnancy