So It Turns Out That Pregnancy Can Affect Your Brain Structure

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Pregnancy can have a relatively long-term affect on the structure of a woman's brain, according to new research.

A new study published in the Nature Neuroscience journal found that pregnancy reduces grey matter in specific parts of the brain, helping a new mum to bond with her baby and adapt for motherhood. These changes can last for at least two years after a woman's birth, the study found.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and Leiden University, who compared the brains of 25 first-time mums to those of 20 women without children over a five-year period.

“The findings point to an adaptive process related to the benefits of better detecting the needs of the child, such as identifying the newborn's emotional state,” said the study’s co-lead author Oscar Vilarroya.

However, the study also found that pregnancy had no noticeable effect on a woman's memory or cognitive abilities. The study's other co-lead author, Erika Barba, said that "these changes concern brain areas associated with functions necessary to manage the challenges of motherhood."

Last week, the UK's fertility treatment regulator, the HFEA, approved the use of Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy (MRT) "in certain, specific cases." This means that babies made from two women and one man will be born in the UK from as early as next year.
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