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UCLA Campus Report: Understanding Pregnancy Complications; The "Walk of Shame

A look at some of the non-sports stories making headlines around campus

This hole in the ground, with Spaulding Field in the background, is going to be the new hotel/conference center.
This hole in the ground, with Spaulding Field in the background, is going to be the new hotel/conference center.

An occasional report from around campus that recognizes that UCLA is a school with a world-class reputation for research and innovation and whose people make real impact on the real world:

This week’s news includes research that helps scientists understand pregnancy complications, sad news about fast food and young children and how men and women react differently to the Walk of Shame.

UCLA research may help scientists understand what causes pregnancy complications

Dr. Hanna Mikkola and researchers at UCLA's Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research have identified a specific type of cell and a related cell communication pathway that are key to the successful growth of a healthy placenta. The findings could greatly bolster our knowledge about the potential causes of complications during pregnancy.

Specifically, the findings could help scientists clarify the particular order in which progenitor cells grow in the placenta, which would allow researchers to track fetal development and identify complications. Progenitor cells are cells that develop into other cells and that initiate growth of the placenta.

The study was led by Mikkola, associate professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology, and Dr. Masaya Ueno, a UCLA postdoctoral fellow. It was published online by the scientific journal Developmental Cell on Nov. 25 and will appear later in the journal's print edition.

Unhappy meals? Majority of very young children in California eat fast food at least once a week

A surprisingly large percentage of very young children in California, including 70 percent of Latino children, eat fast food regularly, according to a new policy brief by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

The study found that 60 percent of all children between the ages of 2 and 5 had eaten fast food at least once in the previous week.

The majority of the state's young children also do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, with only 57 percent of parents reporting that their child ate at least five fruit and vegetable servings the previous day.

"A weekly happy meal is an unhappy solution, especially for toddlers," said Susan Holtby, the study's lead author and a senior researcher at the Public Health Institute. "Hard-working, busy parents need support to make healthy food selections for their kids."

The new study used data from several cycles of the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)to examine dietary behaviors of very young children, including their consumption of fast food, sugar-sweetened beverages, fruits and vegetables, and to gauge how much influence parents have over what their children eat.

UCLA, University of Texas study reveals gender differences in sexual regret

Regret and casual sex may go hand in hand but for different reasons, depending on the sex of the participants.

According to new research by psychologists at UCLA and the University of Texas at Austin, men are more likely to regret not seizing the opportunity for a quick and meaningless tryst, while women are more remorseful about actually jumping into bed for a one-night stand.

Evolutionary pressures probably explain the stark contrast in remorse between men and women when it comes to casual sex, say the researchers behind the findings, which appear in the current issue of the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

"For men, throughout evolutionary history, every missed opportunity to have sex with a new partner was potentially a missed reproductive opportunity — a costly loss from an evolutionary perspective," said Martie Haselton, a UCLA professor of psychology and communication studies in whose lab the research was conducted. "But for women, reproduction required much more investment in each offspring, including nine months of pregnancy and potentially two additional years of breastfeeding. The consequences of casual sex were so much higher for ancestral women than for ancestral men, and this is likely to have shaped emotional reactions to sexual liaisons even today."

UCLA in the News

Baby Boom for Gay Couples A New York Times article ("Baby Boom for Gay Parents") about the changing American family and a recent "baby boom" among gay parents cited research by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimating that the number of same-sex couples raising children has doubled in the past decade.

Unraveling How Autism Disrupts Early Brain

A UCLA study that mapped autism-risk genes by function and uncovered how mutations in the genes disrupt fetal brain development was highlighted today by Psychology Today, RedOrbit and News-Medical, and Thursday by HealthDay News, Medical Daily, SFARI News, Science Codex, BioScience Technology, PsyPost, Techno Bahn, Science Newsline and Medical Xpress. Dr. Daniel Geschwind, the Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics, professor of neurology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, and Neelroop Parikshak, a graduate student researcher, were quoted in the coverage.

How Important Is a Good-Looking Spouse?

An article in today’s International Business Times about research on marriage satisfaction highlighted a study by UCLA psychology professors Benjamin Karney and Thomas Bradbury, who co-direct the Relationship Institute at UCLA, that found that men who felt they "lucked out" by marrying attractive wives were happier and more likely to care about their wives' needs — and, in turn, their wives were happier. Karney is quoted.

Retirement Apps for Smartphones

Tuesday’s Scientfic American featured a column by Shlomo Benartzi, professor of accounting at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, about how a retirement-savings application for smartphones could help baby boomers better prepare for retirement.