Episode 31: Motherhood

Janet Golden's Message in a Bottle

This week’s image is the cover of Janet Golden’s book, Message in a Bottle: The Making of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, available on

What makes motherhood scientific? This week, we try to answer, with a look at motherhood, pregnancy, and science. We explore the history of pregnancy tests, and what that has to do with South African clawed frogs. Janet Golden, an expert on fetal alcohol syndrome, joins us to talk about how ideas have changed regarding pregnant women and what they should and shouldn’t consume. And we learn about Marie Curie and her daughters—one a scientist, the other a writer. Element of the Week: Curium.

Show Clock

00:00 Opening Credits
00:32 Introduction
01:06 Element of the Week: Curium
03:43 A Conversation with Janet Golden
07:55 Chemistry in Your Cupboard: Home Pregnancy Tests
11:07 Quote: Katharine Whitehorn
11:29 Closing Credits

Resources and References

For more on the history of pregnancy tests, read Rebecca Lipsitz’s article “Pregnancy Tests,” in Scientific American (November 2000). Find a preview here.
Learn more about Janet Golden’s research and other work at the Center for Children and Childhood Studies.
Read more about Marie Curie on the Nobel Prize Web site.


Special thanks to Erin McLeary for researching the show.

Our theme music is composed by Dave Kaufman. Additional music from the PodSafe Music Network. The music at the end of the Element of the Week is “Podcast Background Music Loop 6,” by Nick Murray. At the show ID, you’re hearing “A Song for Jake (Unplugged),” by DJOC. Under the quotation is “Edgar Meyer Winter,” by Shibboleth.


Posted In: History | Medicine

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