Navigation Links
Adapting to pregnancy played key role in human evolution, study shows

AUSTIN, TexasThe human spine evolved differently in males and females in order to alleviate back pressure from the weight of carrying a baby, according to research spearheaded at The University of Texas at Austin.

The lumbar differences are documented for the first time in the Dec. 13 issue of Nature.

The researchers believe the adaptation first appeared at least two million years ago, in the early human ancestor Australopithecus. The male-female difference does not appear in chimpanzees, meaning the evolution to walking upright led to the adaptation.

"Natural selection favored this adaptation because it reduces extra stress on a pregnant female's spine," said University of Texas at Austin anthropologist Liza Shapiro, who conducted the research with graduate student Katherine K. Whitcome, now a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University. "Without the adaptation, pregnancy would have placed a heavier burden on back muscles, causing considerable pain and fatigue and possibly limiting foraging capacity and the ability to escape from predators."

Harvard anthropologist Daniel Lieberman also contributed to the study, which shows the key differences between males and females appear in the lower back, or lumbar portion of the spine.

Human spines have a unique forward curve in the lumbar region, but the curve extends across more vertebrae in females. That helps offset harmful forces that might occur on the spine when pregnant women lean back or hyperextend their spines to balance the weight of the fetus, Shapiro said. The joints between the vertebrae also are larger in females and angled differently than in males to better support the extra weight.

"Any mother can attest to the awkwardness of standing and walking while balancing pregnancy weight in front of the body," Shapiro said. "Yet our research shows their spines have evolved to make pregnancy safer and less painful than it might have been if these adaptations had not occurred."


Contact: Liza Shapiro
University of Texas at Austin

Related medicine news :

1. HIV therapy in pregnancy-data support WHO recommendations
2. Treating diabetes during pregnancy can break link to childhood obesity
3. Treating Diabetes During Pregnancy Could Lead to Thinner Kids
4. 15% of Women Struggle With Pregnancy-Related Depression
5. Pregnancy may increase the risk of developing binge eating disorder
6. Pregnancy may slow -- not accelerate -- progression to AIDS
7. Study indicates pregnancy does not harm chances of survival from cancer
8. Kaiser Permanente Study Shows One in Seven Women are Depressed Before, During, or After Pregnancy
9. IVF technique enables pregnancy without multiple births, Stanford researchers find
10. Maternal Mortality Declining in Middle-income Countries; Women Still Die in Pregnancy and Childbirth in Low-income Countries
11. Pancreas May Be Key to Pregnancy-Linked Diabetes
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... Brent Kasmer, a legally blind and certified personal trainer is helping ... fitness app. The fitness app plans to fix the two major problems leading the fitness ... size fits all type program , They don’t eliminate all the reasons people ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 25, 2016 , ... Austin residents seeking Mohs surgery services, can now turn ... to Dr. Russell Peckham for medical and surgical dermatology. , Dr. Dorsey brings specialization ... selective fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery completed by Dr. Dorsey was under the direction ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... , ... June 25, 2016 , ... First Choice ... States, named Dr. Sesan Ogunleye, as the Medical Director of its new Mesquite-Samuell Farm ... Medical Director of our new Mesquite location,” said Dr. James M. Muzzarelli, Executive Medical ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... On Friday, June 10, Van Mitchell, Secretary of ... award to iHire in recognition of their exemplary accomplishments in worksite health promotion. , ... Workplace Health & Wellness Symposium at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum Heights. iHire was ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... Those who have experienced traumatic events may suffer from a complex set ... drug or alcohol abuse, as a coping mechanism. To avoid this pain and suffering, ... traumatic event. , Trauma sufferers tend to feel a range of emotions, from depression, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... CHAPEL HILL, N.C. , June 24, 2016 ... in healthcare decisions and regulators/payers have placed more ... this new environment, patient support programs in the ... support for patients, medications. Consequently, pharmaceutical companies are ... to ensure they are providing products and services ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... DUBLIN , June 24, 2016 ... and Markets has announced the addition of the ... their offering. ... products and provides an updated review, including its applications ... covering the total market, which includes three main industries: ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ANDOVER, Mass. and SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. ... California -based mobile pulmonary function testing company, is now ... portable PFT devices developed by ndd Medical Technologies , Inc. ... PFT testing done in hospital-based labs.  Thanks to ndd,s EasyOne PRO ... CA , can get any needed testing done in the ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: