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(Anatomy) Reproductive System: First Baby From Frozen Egg

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 8:20 am    Post subject: (Anatomy) Reproductive System: First Baby From Frozen Egg Reply with quote

Nurse Delivers First Baby From Frozen Donor Egg Bank
Press Release
University of Kentucky
Beth Goins

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 3, 2006) − Wendy and Jared Kennedy find it hard
to take their eyes off their new daughter, Avery Lee, born in the early
morning hours of Dec. 31 at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical
Center. Avery is special to them for many reasons, but she’s also special
to the world. The 8 pound, 2 ounce baby girl is apparently the first baby
born after being conceived with a frozen donor egg from a commercial
egg bank.

Wendy, a 41-year-old nurse at the UK Markey Cancer Center, and Jared
found they were unable to conceive on their own. Lab tests revealed that
they would need to use a donor egg. The couple learned about a new
technology in which women’s eggs can be frozen and stored in much the
same way as donor sperm, which has been available for infertile couples
for decades.

The Kennedy couple turned to the first commercial donor egg bank in the
world, Cryo Eggs International, which has offices in Lexington and in
Phoenix, Arizona. James Akin, M.D., a voluntary member of the clinical
faculty research team at the UK College of Medicine, Department of
Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology, is
medical director for CEI.

The new technology to successfully freeze women’s eggs allows women to
select a familial “match,” or someone with similar characteristics, from
the donor eggs in the bank. The eggs may be shipped anywhere in the
world to be thawed, fertilized and transferred as an embryo to the
waiting woman who wishes to experience the pregnancy and birth of her
baby. Wendy and Jared chose a donor with a similar ancestoral
background—German—and who closely resembles Wendy. They also
were able to plan when to conceive—something they might not have
been able to do with unfrozen eggs harvested from a donor, who would
have been required to travel to the same facility as Wendy and the
menstrual cycles of the two women coordinated.

Egg donors are tested as required by the FDA for infectious diseases
within 30 days of egg collection. The eggs are then frozen and
quarantined for six months. After the donor tests negative again for HIV
and other infectious diseases, the eggs released.

”She’s a little miracle,” Wendy said a little more than 24 hours after the
birth of their daughter. “I kept looking at her all night telling
myself, ‘She’s really ours.’”

Wendy and Jared said they hope other infertile couples will gain hope by
hearing their story.

“We don’t want anyone to be as sad as we were. We want to talk about it.
We want them to know that there are options available to them,” Wendy


Questions to explore further this topic:

What is the reproductive system?



What is puberty?

What is the gestation (pregnancy) period?

What are sexual hormones?

The reproductive system and the environment:

What happens during the menstrual cycle?

How many eggs does a woman have?

What is infertility?

Tutorials and Quizzes on the Human Reproductive System:

A series of advanced lectures on human's reproductive life:

Diseases of the Reproductive System:


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2006 8:57 am    Post subject: Armpit Odour Can Exude Women's Fertility Reply with quote

Source: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Date: 2006-01-13


Armpit Odour Can Exude Women's Fertility

Research published in the recent issue of Ethology has discovered that
men are able to potentially use smell as a mechanism to establish when
their current or prospective sexual partners are at their most fertile.

Females of a number of primate species display their fertile period by
behavioural and/or morphological changes. The prevalent opinion was
that there are no noticeable changes in humans across the cycle.
Havlíček et al, however, have found that women's axillary odour is
assessed most attractive in the follicular phase i.e. in the time when
conception is most likely.

One of the possible mechanisms for assessing menstrual cycle phase is
by means of smell. Thus the researchers investigated possible changes in
odour across the menstrual cycle in a sample of 12 women with regular
menstrual cycle, not using hormonal contraception. To collect their body
odour, they wore armpit pads for 24 hours under controlled conditions
(food restrictions, no deodorants etc). Body odour was collected
repeatedly during the menstrual, follicular and luteal cycle phase. Fresh
samples were assessed namely for attractiveness and intensity by 42

Axillary odour from women in the follicular phase was rated as the most
attractive and least intense. On the other hand, highest intensity and
lowest attractiveness was found during the time of menstrual bleeding.

The results suggest that body odour can be used by men as a cue to the
fertile period in current or prospective sexual partners. Therefore, the
fertile period in humans should be considered non-advertised, rather
than concealed.


The paper referred to is 'Non-Advertized does not Mean Concealed: Body
Odour Changes across the Human Menstrual Cycle', Jan Havlíček, Radka
Dvořáková, Luděk Bartoš and Jaroslav Flegr, Ethology.

Ethology publishes original contributions from all branches of behavioural
research on all species of animals, both in the field and lab. It contains
scientific articles of general interest in English language that are based on
a theoretical framework. A section on "Current issues - perspectives and
reviews" is included as well as theoretical investigations, essays on
controversial topics and reviews of notable books. Further details of the
journal are available at

Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering
with more than 600 academic and professional societies. Blackwell
publishes over 750 journals annually and, to date, has published close to
6,000 text and reference books, across a wide range of academic,
medical, and professional subjects. The company remains independent
with 900 staff members in offices in the US, UK, Australia, China,
Denmark, Germany, Japan, and Singapore. Blackwell's mission as an
expert publisher is to create long-term partnerships with clients to
enhance learning, disseminate research, and improve the quality of
professional practice. For more information on Blackwell Publishing,
please visit or
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:13 pm    Post subject: Expectant dads get chubby Reply with quote

Published online: 1 February 2006; | doi:10.1038/news060130-6

Expectant dads get chubby

Finding sympathetic pregnancy in monkeys suggests the fat is useful.

Helen Pearson

Male monkeys gain weight during their partner's pregnancy, and this finding hints at a biological basis for expectant fathers' expanding waistlines.

Men commonly mirror symptoms of pregnancy, such as weight gain, nausea and backache. But the phenomenon, sometimes called couvade syndrome, is often dismissed as psychosomatic, with no real physical explanation.

Now, primate researcher Toni Ziegler at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her colleagues have shown that two types of male monkeys experience one aspect of sympathetic pregnancy too.

They weighed 14 male common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) and 11 cottontop tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) during their partners' pregnancies of five and six months, respectively. They chose these animals because the males are monogamous and take on as much or more of the childcare as the mothers - just like some human dads.

The animals gained as much as 20% of their original body weight, the team reports in Biology Letters1.

Beefing up

Fattening themselves in this way may help the male monkeys get through the gruelling few weeks after the baby arrives, Ziegler says, and so help ensure that their offspring survive. "We think it's preparing them," she says.

The study raises the possibility that a human father who gains weight during his partner's pregnancy might also do so partly because his body is naturally stocking up for the exhausting days and sleepless nights ahead. "A long time ago it might have been advantageous," Ziegler says.

A handful of other studies have shown that expectant fathers experience swings in hormones such as prolactin, testosterone and the stress hormone cortisol. It is possible that these hormonal changes could drive some gain in weight but there have been few studies to test this idea.

Manly behaviour

Of course, men could pad out during pregnancy simply because they are mirroring the behaviour of their burdened partners, who tend to eat and rest more.

And in food-rich Western societies that already tend heavily towards the obese, it is difficult to say whether gaining weight is an advantage for a new dad.

There are also many other reasons that a man's hormone levels could go askew during pregnancy and birth, such as changes in routine and stress, points out Katherine Wynne-Edwards who has studied hormone changes in expectant fathers at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada.

"The arrival of one's mother-in-law might change the hormones of any man," she says.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 3:10 pm    Post subject: Why We Have Sex: It's Cleansing Reply with quote

Why We Have Sex: It's Cleansing
By Ker Than
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 01 March 2006
01:01 pm ET

Scientists have long wondered why organisms bother with sexual reproduction. It makes a whole lot more sense to just have a bunch of females that can clone themselves, which is how asexual reproduction works.

Turns out sex might have evolved as a way to concentrate lots of harmful mutations into individual organisms so they could be easily weeded out by natural selection, a new computer model suggests.

The classic explanation for the onset of whoopee, about 1 billion years ago, is that it provides a way for organisms to swap and shuffle genes and to create offspring with new gene combinations that might survive if the environment suddenly changes.

But some scientists think this isn't enough of a justification to outweigh the many costs of getting together to make little ones. Just ask any single person—sexual organisms have to spend valuable time and resources finding and attracting mates.

If all organisms were like starfishes and cacti, which just drop pieces of themselves when they want to multiply, reproduction would be a whole lot simpler. There would be no need for elaborate peacock feathers or bird songs; stags wouldn't need antlers; elephant bulls wouldn't have to produce stinky cologne and guys probably wouldn't spend so much money on dates.

Natural cleansing

The new work could help test a hypothesis first proposed nearly 20 years ago, stating that sex evolved as a way to purge harmful mutations from a population. According to this view, the random shuffling of genes through sex will sometimes have the effect of concentrating many harmful mutations into single individuals.

These individuals will be less healthy than their peers, and therefore more likely to be weeded out by natural selection, the thinking goes.

This hypothesis, called the "mutational deterministic hypothesis," is controversial though, because it assumes that single mutations by themselves are only slightly harmful, while a combination of many mutations together is much more damaging. Scientists call this phenomenon "negative epistasis."

If negative epistasis were true, it would provide a powerful explanation for why sex has managed to persist for so long despite its numerous costs. But the phenomenon has yet to be widely demonstrated in nature and scientists have yet to figure out how such a thing evolved in the first place.

A new computer model by Ricardo Azevedo of the University of Houston and colleagues provides a possible answer to this last question. According to their model, detailed in the March 2 issue of the journal Nature, negative epistasis is a natural byproduct of sex itself.

Digital critters

The researchers created digital organisms that reproduced through sex in the same manner as real organisms. And like a regular organism, the virtual one developed a natural buffer to resist change by mutations. This ability, called "genetic robustness," is thought to be one of the main benefits of sex.

By shuffling genes, sex allows a population to spread its mutations across many individuals within a group. The mutations become diluted and can be effectively dealt with by an individual's genetic repair system.

But the researchers found that the protection only works when the digital organisms were facing a few mutations at a time. When assaulted by many at once, their repair systems became overwhelmed and the organisms died. Azevedo think this happens in real life, too.

"Most organisms are never forced to adapt to being resistant to many mutations at once," he told LiveScience. "They're adapting to being resistant to one or maybe two mutations, but not to ten at the same time."

The researchers think that the combination of genetic robustness through sex and the limited ability of organisms to deal with mutations leads to the natural development of negative epistasis.

"Most mutations are actually harmful, so anything that helps populations get rid of their harmful mutations is going to be important," Azevedo said. "The more interesting side of evolution is all the beneficial mutations that leads to complex structures, but the dirty work of evolution is to get rid of bad mutations, and that's where sex seems to play a role."
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 8:20 am    Post subject: One big biology question solved Reply with quote

Research Australia
3 April 2006

One big biology question solved

An Australian research team has solved one of biology's most fundamental questions – why males produce sperm and females produce eggs. The finding is a breakthrough that could lead to improved infertility treatment, cancer therapy and pest management.
The team, led by Dr Josephine Bowles and Professor Peter Koopman from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at The University of Queensland, has discovered that derivatives of Vitamin A trigger the beginning of egg and sperm production, a process known as meiosis.

The cells that eventually turn into either eggs or sperm – known as germ cells – are identical in male and female embryos.

"Whether a germ cell develops into an egg or a sperm depends on the time at which meiosis begins," Professor Koopman said.

"In females, meiosis begins before birth and eggs are produced, whereas in males, meiosis begins after birth and the result is sperm."

Professor Koopman and his team found that retinoic acid, a derivative of Vitamin A, causes germ cells in female embryos to begin meiosis, leading to the production of eggs.

They also discovered an enzyme present in male embryos that wipes out retinoic acid and so suppresses meiosis until after birth, resulting in sperm production.

"This is an extremely important process that nobody has been able to figure out until now," Professor Koopman said.

"It is textbook science and it should provide the basis for a number of practical applications."

Knowledge of what triggers and suppresses meiosis may allow researchers to improve fertility, for example in the case of an infertile couple wanting a baby, or suppress it, in the case of pest management.

Professor Koopman also suggested that an inappropriate retinoid signal might give the wrong instructions to germ cells, which could lead to the formation of germ cell tumours.

"Our research has suggested a possible cause for these common testicular cancers, opening up avenues of investigation which will hopefully one day lead to a cure," Professor Koopman said.

The findings of the team will be published in one of the world's top scientific journals Science and will be available in its online version, SciencExpress, from today (Friday 31 March).
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PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2006 9:06 am    Post subject: Study finds that a woman's chances of having twins Reply with quote

North Shore-Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Health System

Study finds that a woman's chances of having twins can be modified by diet
20 May 2006

NEW HYDE PARK, NY – An obstetrician well known for his care of and research into multiple-birth pregnancies has found that dietary changes can affect a woman's chances of having twins, and that her overall chance is determined by a combination of diet and heredity. By comparing the twinning rate of vegan women, who consume no animal products, with that of women who do eat animal products, Gary Steinman, MD, PhD, an attending physician at Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Medical Center in New Hyde Park, NY, found that the women who consume animal products, specifically dairy, are five times more likely to have twins. The study is published in the May 2006 issue of the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, available May 20.
The Lancet recently published an invited comment by Dr. Steinman on dietary influences on twinning in the journal's May 6 issue.

The culprit may be insulin-like growth factor (IGF), a protein that is released from the liver of animals -- including humans -- in response to growth hormone, circulates in the blood and makes its way into the animal's milk. IGF increases the sensitivity of the ovaries to follicle stimulating hormone, thereby increasing ovulation. Some studies also suggest that IGF may help embryos survive in the early stages of development. The concentration of IGF in the blood is about 13 percent lower in vegan women than in women who consume dairy.

The twinning rate in the United States has increased significantly since 1975, about the time assisted reproductive technologies (ART) were introduced. The intentional delay of childbearing has also contributed to the increase of multiple-birth pregnancies, since older women are more likely to have twins even without ART.

"The continuing increase in the twinning rate into the 1990's, however, may also be a consequence of the introduction of growth-hormone treatment of cows to enhance their milk and beef production," said Dr. Steinman.

In the current study, when Dr. Steinman compared the twinning rates of women who ate a regular diet, vegetarian diet with dairy, and vegan diet, he found that the vegan women had twins at only one-fifth the rate of women who commonly do not exclude milk from their diets.

In addition to a dietary influence on IGF levels, there is a genetic link in numerous species of animals, including humans. In cattle, regions of the genetic code that control the rate of twinning have been detected in close proximity to the IGF gene. Researchers have found through large population studies of African American, Caucasian and Asian women that blood IGF levels are greatest among African Americans and lowest in Asians. Some women are just genetically programmed to make more IGF than others. Twinning rates in these demographic groups parallel the IGF levels.

"This study shows for the first time that the chance of having twins is affected by both heredity and environment, or in other words, by both nature and nurture," said Dr. Steinman. These findings are similar to those observed in cows by other researchers, namely that a woman's chance of having twins appears to correlate directly with her blood level of insulin-like growth factor.

"Because multiple gestations are more prone to complications such as premature delivery, congenital defects and pregnancy-induced hypertension in the mother than singleton pregnancies, the findings of this study suggest that women contemplating pregnancy might consider substituting meat and dairy products with other protein sources, especially in countries that allow growth hormone administration to cattle," said Dr. Steinman.

Dr. Steinman has been studying factors that cause or contribute to twinning ever since he delivered a rare set of identical quadruplets in 1997 at LIJ Medical Center. His most recent study published in this month's Journal of Reproductive Medicine on fraternal, or dizygotic, twinning is the seventh in a series. The other six studies, published in the same journal, focused on identical, or monozygotic, twinning. Some of his findings are summarized below.

Previous twinning studies

Dr. Steinman found that women who become pregnant while breastfeeding are nine times more likely to conceive twins than women who are not breastfeeding at the time of conception. He also confirmed findings by others that identical twin sets are more often female than male, especially in conjoined twin sets, and that monozygotic twin sets are more likely to miscarry than dizygotic sets. Dr. Steinman also found evidence through fingerprint analysis that as the number of fetuses in a monozygotic set increases, so does the level of physical diversity among them. In his most recent study of the mechanisms of twinning prior to the new study, Dr. Steinman confirmed that use of in vitro fertilization (IVF) methods increases the incidence of monozygotic twinning -- where the transfer and/or implantation of two embryos results in three infants -- and he proposed that adding more calcium or reducing the chelating agent ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) in the IVF incubation media might decrease the unwanted complication.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 10:44 am    Post subject: Pregnancy Safety 101 Reply with quote

Pregnancy Safety 101
Sun Jun 11, 2006
Manila Buelltin

By Definition

"A safe and healthy pregnancy means that there are no complications, the mother doesn’t have any problems before, during and after delivery, and the baby is very healthy," begins Dr. Faye Cagayan, FPOGS.

"What’s most important is a healthy pre-pregnant condition, or if the mom was healthy and safe before she got pregnant," she continues.

In case the mother has medical problems such as asthma, diabetes or hypertension, Dr, Cagayan says that if her condition is stable nonetheless and her sickness well-managed and under-control, there will be nothing to worry about even during the course of pregnancy.

Dr. Cagayan lists the following factors that largely contribute to a safe and healthy pregnancy:

1. Regular consultations and check-ups

2. Knowing the preventive measures against pregnancy problems

3. Early diagnosis and management of problems and diseases during pregnancy

4. Eating the right kind of food, proper nutrition and exercise

"Our main concern is that the mom is healthy and ready to conceive prior to getting pregnant," she says.

Pre-Conception Counseling

Dr. Cagayan advises married couples (and even those who are not yet married but have an active sex life) to start seeing an OB-Gynecologist even if they’re not yet pregnant. Aside from the fact that the women need their regular check-ups for reproductive health, these consultations may already involve discussing risks of genetic diseases in case they get pregnant.

How will they be able to know these risks? Through tracing the family pedigree which is also done in this type of counseling.

"Genetic problems that are unrecognized or which either parent has a family history of will be known, as well as the risks that the pregnancy will involve," says Dr. Cagayan. "If the mother, especially, has diabetes, hypertension, asthma, connective tissue disorders, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or epilepsy, then they should be advised on the risks for her and her baby in case she gets pregnant."

Dr. Cagayan says that having these conditions do not necessarily inhibit a woman from getting pregnant, but with conditions such as congenital heart disease, pregnancy might possibly cause death to the mother. "It would be a great help to the couple and their family planning if they knew all this," says Dr. Cagayan.

Even the father’s side has the probability of having a history of genetic diseases, especially undetected ones.

"Pre-conception counseling can help a couple produce healthy offspring," says Dr. Cagayan. "Part of this is the intake of folic acid to reduce incidences of neural tube defects, and also for the development of the baby."

"As Asians, we have a higher risk of having these kinds of defects," she continues. "It’s part of our ethnicity to have high-risk pregnancies. Just by virtue that you are a Filipino, you should be careful about your pregnancy from the very beginning."

How an Expecting Mom Stays Healthy…


"Your level of activity even before you got pregnant --- if there is no contraindication of cutting it down --- can be continued up until the eighth month of pregnancy or four weeks prior to the delivery date," says Dr. Cagayan, stressing that this is true only for women who are used to a certain level of exercise or activity.

"But if your pre-pregnancy lifestyle was sedentary, don’t suddenly take up sports as soon as you get pregnant, that’s not advisable," she cautions. She also says that only low-impact sports are advisable for pregnant women.

Examples of these are:

1. Water aerobics

2. Walking

3. Pilates

4. Yoga

5. Stretching exercises

6. Swimming (not competitive)

"You have to stay active so that your muscles will stay toned," she says. "All these activities are isotonic or muscle-strengthening exercises that will also be useful up until after the pregnancy and even as you age."

Not all pregnant women can exercise, though; certain contraindications could prevent a pregnant woman from pursuing such an active lifestyle.

Contraindications such as:

1.Signs and history of premature labor

2. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

3. Frequent contractions

4. Placenta previa

5. Other medical problems

"Ask your OB-Gyne about activities that are safe for you," says Dr. Cagayan. "Pregnancy care is highly-individualized. What is okay for one patient might not be okay for another."

Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises are done by squeezing the pelvic or vaginal muscles together, holding them tight for a certain number of counts, letting go and then doing it all over again. (In this writer’s case, I would squeeze my muscles during commercial breaks on TV, and then relax them once the program I’m watching resumes!)

"Kegels not only strengthen pubic muscles for urinary purposes," says Dr. Cagayan. "They also have sexual functions." Doing these exercises prior to delivery also prepares the vagina for normal delivery.

Bed Rest

Most expecting mothers who work tend to put the importance of bed rest aside for fear of being terminated or using up their maternity leaves.

"It is part of being a parent to be ready to make these sacrifices," says Dr. Cagayan. "You don’t want to lose your job, but at what cost? Be prepared to prioritize your pregnancy."

She advises pregnant women to take bed rest seriously, especially upon the advice of their OB-Gyne. "The doctor has weighed all the costs versus the risks and, most probably, the doctor has decided that bed rest is part of the management regimen to control premature labor," Dr. Cagayan says.


"Mood swings are a part of pregnancy," says Dr. Cagayan. "You just need the support of your family and a good emotional connection with the father of your child."

"It’s your decision to be well, pregnant or not. It’s a choice to be happy," she continues. "Not all women get pregnant under ideal conditions (emotionally, physically and financially prepared, economically stable and with a spouse), but your happiness begins with you. Keep in mind that your emotions are also passed on to your baby."

In order to avoid depression during and after pregnancy…

1. Listen to good music.

2. Surround yourself with friends.

3. Do creative things. Have an outlet.

4. Make yourself pretty. Wear fashionable maternity clothes.

"In our culture, we have lots of friends and family to turn to. Feeling down is normal among pregnant women because of the hormonal changes," says Dr. Cagayan. "Counseling and good family support is the key. Moms are very resilient. And, culturally, we are a happy people."

Pregnancy Don’ts

for Safety

1. Don’t dye your hair.

2. Don’t apply chemicals especially

on your skin. Everything will

be absorbed by your baby. If you

are not sure about a product,

don’t use it.

3. In a spa, don’t go for a massage.

Take only luxury baths.

4. Don’t bleach your skin.

5. Don’t drink caffeinated drinks

such as coffee, tea, sodas and


6. Don’t wear tight clothes that

hamper the growth of your

tummy and that may cause

vaginal infections.

7. Don’t wear pantyliners. They

have chemicals and irritants

that can cause allergic reactions.

Instead, bring extra underwear

for that heavy-discharge season.

8. Don’t wear heels if you can

avoid it. The angle of heels is

not natural. Remember that the

line of gravity shifts when you’re

pregnant; so wearing flats would


9. Don’t forget to undergo CBC

for your hemoglobin count and


10. Don’t stop yourself from

traveling. Take your baby

places even if he can’t see them

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 6:09 pm    Post subject: Girl's First Period Depends on Who She Lives With Reply with quote

Girl's First Period Depends on Who She Lives With

By Ker Than
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 13 July 2006
08:33 am ET

From an evolutionary perspective, making babies with a closely related family member is a cardinal sin. A new study suggests that like many animals, humans have evolved built-in mechanisms to help keep this from happening.

The study finds that the absence of a father, the presence of half- and step-brothers, and living in an urban environment are all associated with the earlier onset of a girl's first period, known as "menarche." Meanwhile, the presence of sisters in the household while growing up has the opposite effect.

The researchers speculate that the findings are part of an evolutionary strategy to prevent inbreeding and that it is regulated by chemical signals, called pheromones, that influence our behavior without our knowing it.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:44 pm    Post subject: Miscarriage significantly associated with paternal age Reply with quote

Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
3 August 2006

Miscarriage significantly associated with increasing paternal age

In a study conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the New York Psychiatric Institute researchers found that increasing paternal age is significantly associated with increased rates of spontaneous abortion, a pregnancy loss occurring before twenty weeks of gestation. Results indicate that as the male partner ages there is a steady increase in rate of miscarriage. Women with partners aged 35 or older had nearly three times as many miscarriages as compared with women conceiving with men younger than 25 years of age. This finding is independent of the woman's age and not explained by other factors such as diabetes, smoking, or previous spontaneous abortions, and adds to the growing realization of the importance of paternal characteristics for successful reproductive outcome.

"There has been a tremendous amount of research on women, and how their characteristics affect pregnancy outcomes. Of course, women's importance and centrality to pregnancy cannot be overstated. However, scientists seem to have forgotten that men are equal partners in reproduction, and their influence should be studied to the same degree. Our group has focused on men's influence on the health of their offspring, and we have made some fascinating discoveries," said Karine Kleinhaus, MD, MPH currently in Columbia's Department of Psychiatry and first author of the study. "This study shows how a man's age affects the likelihood of miscarriage."

Earlier research by the Columbia scientists showed that older men's wives suffer from preeclampsia, while the offspring of older men are more likely to get schizophrenia. "This is not as surprising as it may sound at first, as it was already shown by other researchers that older men have more abnormalities in their sperm, and that their children are more susceptible to certain birth defects," observes Dr. Klienhaus. In fact, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has set an upper age limit of 40 years old for semen donors because of the increased risk of genetic abnormalities in the offspring of older fathers.

The international team of scientists involved in the study used a large historical data set containing information on many characteristics of mothers and fathers that might contribute to spontaneous abortion. The researchers analyzed data from the ante-natal or post-partum interviews of 13,865 women. This data was recorded in the Jerusalem Perinatal Study, a population-based cohort derived from 92,408 births in Jerusalem in 1964-1976.

Accordingly, the study, which focused exclusively on spontaneous abortion as the outcome, has as one of its strengths its large sample size and its extensive data, which permit consideration of important potential confounders not included together in other analyses. These include variables such as maternal diabetes, parity, history of prior spontaneous and induced abortions, and history of maternal smoking, and socioeconomic status.

The cohort used for this study is unique, with immigrants from many origins, including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and countries of North Africa, as well as Central and Eastern Europe. "This broad mix of backgrounds makes our study findings more generalizable," observed Susan Harlap, MD, professor of clinical epidemiology in the Mailman School of Public Health's Department of Epidemiology, and the leader of this research team. "While several previous studies suggested that father's age might contribute to miscarriage, they failed to clarify whether there is a cut-off age or a progressive trend over the whole range of ages."

The study findings generate strong support for the association of increasing paternal age with increasing rates of spontaneous abortion, and are corroborated by other published studies. "Advanced paternal age may result in only a slight increase in the chance of spontaneous abortion for a specific couple. Nevertheless, as child bearing is increasingly delayed in Western societies, this study provides important information for people who are planning their families," said Dr. Kleinhaus. "The study also adds to a growing understanding of how men's age, health, and occupations can affect their partner's pregnancies and the offspring's future development."

In addition to the Mailman School of Public Health and the New York Psychiatric Institute, the international team of scientists included researchers from Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine and the Department of Hematology, Hebrew University-Hadassah, Jerusalem, Israel.

The Jerusalem Perinatal Cohort, is among those being followed by the life course studies program within the Mailman School's Department of Epidemiology. Department Chair Ezra Susser, MD, DrPH, has been building a program of life course research -- called the Imprints Center -- in which epidemiologists seek to uncover the causes of a broad range of disease and health outcomes, following individuals from an early point in life and examining their risks for disease. Life course studies are particularly well positioned to examine the interplay of genetic and environmental risk factors - the key to understanding many complex diseases.

The study findings are published in the August 1, 2006 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology 2006;108:369-377 © 2006 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

About the Mailman School of Public Health
The only accredited school of public health in New York City, and among the first in the nation, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health provides instruction and research opportunities to more than 950 graduate students in pursuit of masters and doctoral degrees. Its students and more than 270 multi-disciplinary faculty engage in research and service in the city, nation, and around the world, concentrating on biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health policy and management, population and family health, and sociomedical sciences.

Founded in 1896, the New York State Psychiatric Institute (PI) continues to contribute importantly to knowledge about understanding and treating psychiatric disorder and is ranked among the best psychiatric research facilities in the world today. Noted for its research on depression and suicide, schizophrenia, anxiety and child psychiatric disorders, PI is also at the forefront of research dedicated to unraveling the brain's mysteries. Its scientists constitute the core of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University. In 2000, Dr. Eric Kandel was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research in his labs at PI on the cellular basis of memory.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:23 pm    Post subject: Circumcision: Fact, Fiction and Hype Reply with quote

Circumcision: Fact, Fiction and Hype

By Christopher Wanjek
LiveScience’s Bad Medicine Columnist
posted: 22 August 2006
08:45 am ET

The controversy over male circumcision has once again reared its ugly head. Once favored as a means to reduce the risk of infections and sexually transmitted diseases, then shunned in recent decades as unnecessary and painful for newborn baby boys, the cut is back and looking better than ever.

A new study, highlighted at last week's XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, has found that circumcision is almost as good as a high-quality vaccine at preventing HIV infection in South Africa. An earlier study had found that circumcised men in sub-Sahara Africa were less than half as likely than uncircumcised men to contract HIV. And the U.S. National Institutes of Health has green-lighted the continuation of circumcision studies in Uganda and Kenya.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2007 9:23 am    Post subject: Hot tubs hurt fertility, UCSF study shows Reply with quote

University of California - San Francisco
2 March 2007

Hot tubs hurt fertility, UCSF study shows

Exposure to hot baths or hot tubs can lead to male infertility, but the effects can sometimes be reversible, according to a new study led by a University of California, San Francisco urologist.

Results from a three-year study analyzing data from infertile men who had been repeatedly exposed to high water temperatures through hot tubs, Jacuzzis or hot baths are reported in the March-April 2007 issue of "International Braz J Urol," the official journal of the Brazilian Society of Urology. Study findings will be available online at

"It has been believed for decades that wet heat exposure is bad for fertility, as an old wives’ tale, but this effect has rarely been documented," said Paul J. Turek, MD, lead investigator who is a professor in the UCSF Department of Urology and director of the UCSF Male Reproductive Health Center. "We now have actual evidence to show patients that these recreational activities are a real risk factor for male infertility."

Although this was only a pilot study, Turek said, "these activities can be comfortably added to that list of lifestyle recommendations and ‘things to avoid’ as men attempt to conceive."

Dry heat exposure, for instance, as presented with fevers or through applied external heat, is a well-documented cause of impaired sperm production in both animals and humans, according to Turek. This is the first published study to show that total body exposure to wet heat can also impair both sperm production and motility. Study findings also showed that the negative effect of this exposure was reversible in nearly half of the infertile men who discontinued the practice.

An estimated 7 percent of American couples report that they are unable to conceive a child naturally within one year, according to the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, the latest data available to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of those, 30 percent are attributed to the male partner, 30 percent to the female and the remainder to either both partners or to unknown causes, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

The ASRM estimates that 85 percent to 90 percent of infertility cases can be effectively treated with drug therapy or surgical procedures. Less than 3 percent require advanced reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization, but those techniques can be costly. The ASRM cites an average IVF cost of $12,400 per cycle in the United States.

"One implication of this work is that a simple lifestyle maneuver could ‘shift the care’ from high-tech intervention to low-tech or no-tech," Turek said. "Couples really prefer having kids at home and not with technology. This is a way to help them do that." Turek advises men who would like to conceive a child to "treat your body like a temple: Eat well, sleep well and take good care of yourself."

The study’s 11 patients were identified on the basis of repeated exposure to wet heat and were asked to cease that exposure for three or more months. Five of the patients (45 percent) responded favorably to the cessation of heat exposure and had a mean increase in total motile sperm counts of 491 percent after three to six months. This increase was largely driven by a statistically significant increase in sperm motility among responders, from a mean of 12 percent at the start of the study to 34 percent post-intervention.

Of the six patients who did not see an increase in sperm count or motility, tobacco use emerged as a possible differentiating factor. Five of those patients were chronic tobacco users with a significant smoking history, in contrast to only three occasional smokers in the responder group. No other potential gonadotoxic factors – harmful to the male gonad – were identified.

For the purposes of this study, wet heat exposure was defined as the immersion of the body in a hot tub, heated Jacuzzi or bath at a temperature warmer than body temperature for 30 minutes or more per week for at least three months prior to participation in the study. Patients were excluded from the study if they had received infertility treatments in the previous year, or if female infertility was a co-existing factor.

The only previously published study to examine this link was performed in 1965, according to the research paper. In that study, 20 men were exposed to direct scrotal wet heat for 30 minutes on six alternating days. The findings showed a temporary decline in sperm production during the treatments, but there were no details of semen quality before and after the study. An unpublished Swiss study in the 1940s had also linked wet heat to temporary male infertility.

Concern about wet heat effects on infertility crosses many cultures, Turek said, citing a centuries-old practice in Japan of barring childless men from conducting business deals in hot tubs, due to its believed effect on fertility.

Work on this research was begun by UCSF medical student Phiroz E. Tarapore, who is graduating this spring. Co-authors of the study are Shai Shefi, MD, Department of Urology, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Hashomer, Israel; Thomas J. Walsh, MD, UCSF Department of Urology; and Mary Croughan, PhD, UCSF Departments of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, and Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

UCSF is a leading university that advances health worldwide by conducting advanced biomedical research, educating graduate students in the life sciences and health professions, and providing complex patient care.
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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 9:00 am    Post subject: Hopes Dashed: Women Don't Generate New Eggs Reply with quote

Hopes Dashed: Women Don't Generate New Eggs
By Corey Binns, Special to LiveScience

posted: 15 May 2007 10:32 am ET

Since the 1950s, women were told all the eggs they'd ever carry were created before they were born. A couple years back, however, research on mice suggested eggs might be generated later in life. That gave a glimmer of hope to women who suffered infertility problems.

But the hope has apparently been dashed by a new study led by University of South Florida biologists Lin Liu and David Keefe.

The dogma that a woman's egg-making days are limited was challenged by a team lead by Harvard reproductive endocrinologist Jonathan Tilly who published studies conducted on mice in 2004 and 2005.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 9:40 am    Post subject: Physicist cracks women’s random but always lucky choice of X Reply with quote

Physicist cracks women’s random but always lucky choice of X chromosome

University of Warwick
12 June 2007

A University of Warwick physicist has uncovered how female cells are able to choose randomly between their two X chromosomes and why that choice is always lucky.

Human males have both a X and a Y chromosome but females have two X chromosomes. This means that in an early stage in the development of a woman’s fertilised egg the cells need to silence one of those two X chromosomes. This process is crucial to survival and problems with the process are related to serious genetic diseases.

Both X chromosomes in a cell have a suicide gene called XIST which, if activated, seals the chromosome behind a barrier of RNA preventing the activation of any other gene. Researchers believe that this suicide gene can be itself blocked by a plug of proteins forming on top of its specific location on the chromosome but they had little idea as to why this should happen randomly to one X chromosome’s gene and not the other.

Scientists are extremely uncomfortable with this randomness and have sought a clear scientific reason as to why one X chromosome was switched off rather than the other. The observations also seem to run counter to the usual idea that the biological mechanisms evolve in ways that allow a "best" choice to be made between things rather than a random one.

Now researchers led by University of Warwick physicist Dr Mario Nicodemi have explained how this randomness occurs and why that it is beneficial. This will help understand the problems of a small number of women who unusually don’t have a completely random distribution of X chromosomes but the explanation may have much wider implications as at least 10% of our genes may behave in similar ways as mechanism that "chooses" between X chromosomes. Examples of this range from the immune system to our olfactory apparatus.

Coming at the problem from the perspective of a physicist Dr Nicodemi has found an explanation for the random selection based on thermodynamics. Research has already shown that at the key moment in this process both X chromosomes are brought close together within the cell. The Warwick researcher paper says that what happens next is that material for a "protein plug" then begins to gather around both of the XIST suicide genes on each X Chromosome. This starts a race between the two build ups of protein. Inevitably one of these two nascent protein plugs narrowly wins that race and reaches an energy state in which it can pull together all the material building up in both plugs into a single protein plug. That single plug then closes off one of the XIST suicide genes allowing its host X chromosome to continue to operate. However the other XIST suicide gene is now freed to activate and shuts down its X chromosome.

Since putting forward this explanation researchers in Harvard have observed actual plugs of protein shutting down X chromosome XIST genes in a manner giving further confirmation to Dr Nicodemi’s research. So the randomness is explained but what about researchers’ other concerns? Dr Nicodemi believes the randomness actually does give an evolutionary advantage. The mechanism means equal numbers of both the maternal and paternal X chromosome are preserved in the gene pool and the resultant population thus has more chance of surviving any biological threat targeted at a single version of the X chromosome.

Note for Editors: The full title of Dr. Mario Nicodemi’s paper is "Symmetry breaking Model in X Chromosome Inactivation" in Physical Review Letters, vol.98 page 108104
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 12:43 pm    Post subject: Study: Circumcision Removes Most Sensitive Parts Reply with quote

Study: Circumcision Removes Most Sensitive Parts
By Ker Than, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 15 June 2007 12:53 pm ET

How much does circumcision alter what a man ultimately feels? Scientific studies aiming to answer this question have been inconclusive.

Now researchers prodding dozens of male penises with a fine-tipped tool have found that the five areas most receptive to fine-touch are routinely removed by the surgery.

The finding, announced today, was detailed in the April issue of the British Journal of Urology (BJU) International.

Circumcision surgery involves the removal of the skin that covers the tip of the penis, called the foreskin. Infant male circumcision is the most common medical procedure in the United States, with an estimated 60 percent of male newborns undergoing the surgery.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 8:41 am    Post subject: Key to Male Infertility Found Reply with quote

Key to Male Infertility Found
By LiveScience Staff

posted: 29 June 2007 03:33 pm ET

How much of a certain immune system protein a man’s semen contains could determine whether or not he can have children, a new study suggests.

The finding, detailed in the latest issue of the journal Molecular Medicine, could lead to fertility tests for males or new types of male contraception, the researchers say.

Researchers at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in New York have isolated a substance called macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) in semen samples collected from 68 infertile and 27 reproductively healthy men.

The samples were collected from men three to five days after a period of sexual abstinence and analyzed by scientists who had no idea which group of men the samples belonged to.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 8:04 am    Post subject: Baby Born from Frozen Egg Reply with quote

Baby Born from Frozen Egg
By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 02 July 2007 10:42 am ET

The first baby created from an egg that had been matured in the laboratory, frozen, thawed and then fertilized, was born in Canada, scientists announced today.

The baby girl marks the first in what the scientists hope will be a viable option for women who become infertile due to certain types of cancer or polycystic ovary conditions in which liquid-filled sacs called cysts accumulate on the ovaries.

“It has the potential to become one of the main options for fertility preservation,” said study team leader Hananel Holzer of the McGill Reproductive Center in Montreal, Canada.

The breakthrough was presented at an annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in France.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 8:30 am    Post subject: New Theory on How Twins Form Reply with quote

New Theory on How Twins Form
By Maria Cheng, The Associated Press

posted: 03 July 2007 05:17 pm ET

LYON, France (AP) — Scientists proposed a new theory this week for how identical twins are formed as embryos, in a discovery that may improve a broad range of artificial reproduction techniques.

Using specialized computer software to take photos every two minutes of 33 embryos growing in a laboratory, Dr. Dianna Payne, a visiting research fellow at the Mio Fertility Clinic in Japan, and colleagues documented for the first time the early days of twin development.

The research was presented Monday at a meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology in Lyon, France.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 11:22 am    Post subject: Rare example of Darwinism seen in action Reply with quote

University of California - Riverside
31 July 2007

Rare example of Darwinism seen in action

Contributions from UC Riverside biologists greatly assisted the research study on fish bearing placenta

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A research team, including UC Riverside biologists, has found experimental evidence that supports a controversial theory of genetic conflict in the reproduction of those animals that support their developing offspring through a placenta.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 3:25 pm    Post subject: Women Evolve More Spine to Carry Babies Reply with quote

Women Evolve More Spine to Carry Babies
By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 12 December 2007 01:00 pm ET

Like cushy baby strollers, women's bodies have evolved spines that are more flexible and supportive than men's to keep from tipping over while walking during pregnancy.

Pregnancy brings loads of hormonal changes as seeming biological wizardry transforms a woman's body into a baby incubator. As the fetus grows, so does a woman's belly. No surprise, the front cargo pulls her center of gravity off kilter.

If the body architecture failed to take counter measures, pregnant women would be tipping over left and right or walking around with even worse pain than they do. New research detailed in the Dec. 13 issue of the journal Nature shows lower-back vertebrae and joints in women have special features that accommodate the extra weight.

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