Monthly Archives: August 2016

Cannabinoid receptor activates spermatozoa

Biologists have detected a cannabinoid receptor in spermatozoa. Endogenous cannabinoids that occur in both the male and the female genital tract activate the spermatozoa: they trigger the so-called acrosome reaction, during which the spermatozoon releases digestive enzymes and loses the cap on the anterior half of its head. Without this reaction, spermatozoa cannot penetrate the ovum.

Increasing nursing mothers’ vitamin D levels may benefit babies

New research has found that giving breastfeeding mothers monthly high-dose vitamin D supplements may be a possible way to improve their babies’ vitamin D status. Vitamin D is essential for calcium and bone metabolism and is mainly obtained from exposure to sunlight, with only low levels found in food and breast milk. Risk factors for infant vitamin D deficiency — which can lead to the bone disorder rickets — include being exclusively breastfed.

Breast milk sugar may protect babies against deadly infection

A type of sugar found naturally in some women’s breast milk may protect newborn babies from infection with a potentially life threatening bacterium called Group B streptococcus, according to a new study. These bacteria are a common cause of meningitis in newborns and the leading cause of infection in the first three months of life globally.

Baby simulator program may make teenage girls more, not less, likely to become pregnant

A teenage pregnancy prevention program involving a baby simulator does not appear to have any long-term effect on reducing the risk of teenage pregnancy, according to the first randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of this intervention. In fact, the study found that teenage girls who took part were more, not less, likely to become pregnant compared to girls who did not take part.

Zika virus may persist in the vagina days after infection

The Zika virus reproduces in the vaginal tissue of pregnant mice several days after infection, according to a new study. From the genitals, the virus spreads and infects the fetal brain, impairing fetal development. The findings suggest that the Zika virus may replicate more robustly in the female reproductive tract than at other sites of infection, with potentially dire consequences for reproduction, said the researchers.

New mouse model of Zika sexual transmission shows spread to fetal brain

The Zika virus, commonly transmitted through a bite from an infected mosquito, is also capable of leaping from person to person through sexual transmission. However, the mechanisms Zika uses to invade the body from the genitals, and the havoc it may wreak from there, are unclear. To better understand the process, a group of researchers has developed the first mouse model of a vaginal Zika infection.