Stories tagged pregnancy


Planned or unplanned?: A study shows that more than half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. Why is that? This NPR report tries to find some answers.
Planned or unplanned?: A study shows that more than half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. Why is that? This NPR report tries to find some answers.Courtesy Petercantfail
National Public Radio has a pretty interesting story on the statistical odds of getting pregnant in the U.S., and the birth-control reasoning that goes into – at least what I consider – the high rate of unplanned pregnancies.

More than half of all U.S. pregnancies are unplanned. In an age with some many forms of birth control, lots of education opportunities to learn how to avoid pregnancy and a greater openness to talk about sexual activities than in the past, how can this happen?

Click here to get the full report, plus a thorough round-up of the variety of contraception methods that are currently available. While the cliché answer is that pregnancy avoidance is a shared responsibility – and I agree it should be – experts quoted in the story come to the conclusion that females who are sexually active and don’t want to become pregnant need to have a plan in place in advance to reduce their pregnancy chances.

Among the contributing factors to unplanned pregnancies are incorrect or inconsistent use of contraceptives, lack of access to health care and the one theory that really caught my attention: “Magical Thinking.”

Giving the example of one woman, magical thinking was explained as having sex at a time determine through a process of elimination on time when a woman figures she is not fertile. It’s sort of the reverse process of timing sexual activity at the optimum time of ovulation in order to get pregnant.

"You either say, 'I'm not planning to get pregnant, and therefore I'm going to be very careful,' or, 'I am planning to get pregnant,' " says Sarah Brown of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. "If you are the middle, in a fog and magically thinking, you're planning to get pregnant."

What do you think of all of this? Do you react like me to think that the number of unplanned pregnancies is especially high? How can we shift mind-sets of people to be more proactive practicing contraception if they don’t want to encounter a pregnancy? Is this making to big of a deal out of a natural process of life? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

A British woman is expecting the birth of a baby next week. Not so unusual, except that doctors screened the baby, through preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), to be sure that he or she is free of a gene that causes breast cancer.

According to the article,

"The husband's grandmother, mother, sister and a cousin have been diagnosed with the disease [in their 20s].

While a daughter could have been affected by breast cancer herself if she carried the gene, a son could have been a carrier and passed it on to his daughters.

Mr Serhal said: 'The whole objective of this exercise is not just to make sure the child doesn't have the gene, but to stop the transmission from generation to generation.'"

Of course, the PGD doesn't guarantee that if the baby is a girl, she'll never develop breast cancer. There are other genetic and environmental causes for the disease. But at least she won't have the mutant gene that makes breast cancer a 50-80% certainty.

There's more on Buzz about PGD...

OK, stop your snickering. A report from England indicates that a high-calorie, high-potassium diet prior to conception increases the likelihood of a woman giving birth to a boy. Low-calorie diets lead to more girls.


Plenty of kids, but not actually the Duggars: The Duggar children have fewer liberty spikes and less black lipstick
Plenty of kids, but not actually the Duggars: The Duggar children have fewer liberty spikes and less black lipstickCourtesy gruntzooki
JGordon! What a horrible thing to think! Shame on you. You read a story about a 41-year-old woman in Little Rock becoming pregnant with a her 18th child, and all you can think about is this.

No! No! They are a family, not a brood. Shame.

Anyway, in honor of mother’s day, why don’t y’all sit down and think about what it would be like to have 17 brothers and sisters. Because if Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were your parents, you would. The Duggar children range in age from 20 years to 9 months, and all have names starting with the letter J: Joshua, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jeremiah, Jedidiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, and Jana. The name of the fetus has yet to be announced.

The family, naturally, is going to be the subject of a reality show, currently being filmed by Discovery Health. I can’t decide if this will help or hurt my own Duggar-themed one act play.

What’s that? You really want to see a sample of my play? No, I couldn’t… Really no. Oh, fine. I’m so embarrassed. It’s not finished.

Act one (of one), scene six

A phone rings. Jim Bob wades through a crowd of toddlers to answer it.
Jim Bob: Yo?
Michelle (at hospital): Jim Bob, honey, you’re a dad again!
Jim Bob: …Great!
Michelle: So?
Jim Bob: So what? I said ‘great’ didn’t I?
Michelle: No, I mean, what should his name be? You said you’d thought of one already.
Jim Bob: Oh, yeah. I have, I have. His name is, uh, John.
Michelle: We already have a John.
Jim Bob: I know that. I was just testing you. You passed.
Michelle: So?
Jim Bob: Right… Juh… Juh… Jing…er?
Michelle: Jinger? Did you say Jinger?
Jim Bob: Yes.
Michelle: ‘Jinger’ is not a name.
Jim bob: Sure it is.

Act one (of one), scene seventeen

Michelle, lying in personal hospital bed: Oh, Jim Bob, we’ve been blessed again! A beautiful baby girl.
Jim Bob: She sure is. Sweet little…
Michelle: Jana.
Jim Bob: Sweet little Jana.
Michelle: You know, J.B., I’ve been pregnant for eleven years of my life, but it’s all worth it when I look at our wonderful, loving family.
Jim Bob: Yeah…
Michelle: …
Jim Bob: So… What did you feel like doing tonight?

The End…?


Two future fathers compare their progress: Hey! They should be in a bar!
Two future fathers compare their progress: Hey! They should be in a bar!Courtesy $4 griz
One Thomas Beatie of Bend, Oregon, claims to be five months pregnant with a baby girl.

A pregnant man… so strange… and yet so familiar. Where have I seen this before?

Oh, wait, I know exactly where I’ve seen this before: for the second time in as many months, Hollywood has beaten the rest of us saps to the scientific punch. And not just Hollywood, but the Terminator himself. First it was the thing with the twins, a so called scientific breakthrough that we had nonetheless seen 20 years ago in the film
, and now we’re being told that a pregnant man is something to get all excited about, when we’ve all already known about this kind of thing since 1994 and the film (that is to say, documentary) Junior, where a matronly Arnold Schwarzenegger frets over the impending catastrophic damage to his male urethra (this wasn’t explicit in the movie, as far as I know, but we all know Arnold is too tough for a cesarean—check out Predator—and there aren’t a lot of other options for a pregnant man).

As redundant as it may be to give them attention, here are the details of the current male pregnancy: Normal guy Thomas Beatie and his wife have been together for 10 years, and had long hoped to start a family. Sadly, Nancy Beatie had had a hysterectomy, and was unable to conceive. Thinking outside the box, the Beaties decided then to switch things up a little bit, and Thomas took up the pregnancy flag himself. This would have been particularly tricky, if not for the fact that Thomas Beatie was born Tracy Lagondino, a woman. Tracy underwent a sex change 10 years ago, and legally became Thomas, and a man, but decided to keep his reproductive organs. So, after halting his testosterone regimen and waiting for his menstrual cycle to resume, Thomas was artificially inseminated.

Five months into his pregnancy, Thomas announced his condition in the gay, lesbian, and transgender publication The Advocate, explaining the process, and the associated difficulties—both medical, and in getting friends, family, and the medical community to accept him as a man who wishes to carry his family’s child.

Here’s something else to consider: aside from Junior, even, this isn’t the first time there has been buzz over a male pregnancy. In 1999 an extensive website was launched to track the pregnancy of a man named Lee Mingwei. However, the website is still up in 2008, and mister Mingwei is still apparently pregnant—the whole thing was a performance art piece by the artist Virgil Wong. This has lead some to believe that Beatie and The Advocate are pulling a similar stunt. The fact that Beatie intends to speak to the news media in two days—April 1st—doesn’t exactly lend credibility to the story.

Any thoughts? A hoax, or the real deal? And how do you feel about a man getting pregnant?


Should we engineer our babies?

Genetic testing is allowing us to determine more and more information about the health and characteristics of our babies while they are still in their mothers' wombs. With this heightened level of awareness and power, we have to ask ourselves some pretty tough ethical questions:

  • Can we cure deafness or Down Syndrome through testing? Should we?
  • Is not having babies with a known trait an ethical way to eliminate that trait in our population?
  • Should we be able to select for "positive" traits or select the sex of our babies?

I attended an interesting film and discussion at the Bell Museum last week that focused on many of these issues.

Who's Afraid of Designer Babies? is a documentary mostly following several Australian families grappling with a wide array of genetic issues, from crippling genetic illnesses in their children to more frivolous interest in selecting the sex of their children.

While the discussion was very intelligent and not overly polarized I can say that we were far from a consensus on many of these issues. These are complex issues that we will have to keep hashing out as the technology and social mores change. Haven't formed an opinion yet? Read below for more information.

Resources and Links

Genetic Testing & Screening at the University of Minnesota's Center for Bioethics - This is a great resource on the basic questions of ethics that come up around genetic testing.

Genetics and Public Policy Center - "The Genetics and Public Policy Center is a source of accurate and trusted information about public policy related to human genetic technologies and is supported at the Berman Bioethics Institute of Johns Hopkins University by The Pew Charitable Trusts." This group does allot of work in assessing public opinion on these issues.

The US President's Council on Bioethics - This group advises the president on the science and ethical issues behind policy and regulation of biological activities. In the recent past this group has taken a more conservative focus, with President Bush firing several of the more liberal members of the group who actively criticized his position on Stem-cells.