Annie Murphy Paul on Fetal Origins

Monday, November 08, 2010

Journalist Annie Murphy Paul discusses the new field of fetal origins—which looks into how the conditions we encountered while developing in the womb before birth influence our health, intelligence, and temperament. In Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives, she interviews experts from around the world and explores the history of ideas and the latest scientific discoveries.

Comments [14]


Not sure if this has been addressed:

A mother’s nurture may provide powerful protection against risks her baby faces in the womb, according to a new article published online February 25, 2010 in the journal Biological Psychiatry. The research shows that fetuses exposed to high levels of stress hormone – shown to be a harbinger for babies’ poor cognitive development – can escape this fate if their mothers provide them sensitive care during infancy and toddler-hood.
....for kids who enjoyed secure relationships with their moms, any negative link between high prenatal cortisol exposure and kids’ cognitive development was eliminated.

Nov. 10 2010 09:57 PM
Amy Wright

More ammunition to blame the mother

Nov. 09 2010 09:50 PM

When will the audio be available??

Nov. 09 2010 03:18 PM
Olya from basking ridge NJ

As a caregiver, I attended a talk a couple years ago, given by a psychiatrist on 'how traumatic stress triggered schizophrenia in those with a genetic predisposition and born after the war years'. In a specific example, swedish kids that were -in euturo- at a time when the parents had to support food rationing, forced by the Germans, ie/food that went to the army instead of the locals. He showed statistical evidence that confirmed that the nordic, carpathian and eastern Euro. populations, -remember Stalins' 1932-33 forced famine??- that lived thru these stressful times, well, that next generation showed a higher occurance of schizophrenia in those populations, born right after the war. I am a daughter of one of those moms that survived that horrible period. I sit and try to imagine the stress of watching all the terror unfold, for all those years. And as caregiver to her, I can attest how social and environmental stress can impact a person and affect their whole life.

Nov. 09 2010 12:24 PM
Amy from Manhattan

As Annie Murphy Paul said, it's very hard to separate out what results from genetic factors, what from the fetal environment, & what from early child-raising. For example, is greater insecurity in babies born to mothers who were pregnant at the time of the 9/11 attacks due to the mother's stress during & just after the attacks or to an (entirely understandable!) insecurity on the part of both parents that affected how they treated the child after s/he was born, or even high stress levels in the surrounding society as a whole?

Nov. 08 2010 12:41 PM

I had appendicitis when 30 weeks pregnant. My baby was colic, had hard time sleeping and much louder than his older sisters. People kept telling me it's related to what he has been through. I dismissed it but now not sure.

Nov. 08 2010 12:37 PM
John from Manhattan

Is it possible that sexual orientation can be influenced in utero; relatively abundant environment within pregnancy or shortly thereafter would increase homosexual orientation as a means to limit population overgrowth.

Nov. 08 2010 12:35 PM
Debra from montclair

maternal nutrition's affect on permanent teeth?

Nov. 08 2010 12:32 PM
Amy from Manhattan

If the kind of food the mother-to-be eats has an effect on what kind of food her child likes, I wonder how food cravings during pregnancy fit into that. Is there kind of a feedback, where pregnancy causes the the mother-to-be to eat unusual foods & then a taste for those foods is transmitted to the fetus? Would this eventually change the overall food tastes of a culture? I only know 1 adult who likes pickles w/ice cream....

Nov. 08 2010 12:31 PM

Brandon, how do you know about fetal experience in utero?

Nov. 08 2010 12:28 PM
Brandon from Brooklyn

"The Fetal Origins of Experience" is a term and concept developed in the 1970s by Lloyd DeMause in his Psychohistory work. The ideas that you are discussing, leaving out the psychological component, will inevitably end up in being used by the right wing as more anti-abortion rhetoric. This is highly projective of the writer into the experience of the fetus. It has NO concept of any other world (or impending birth)beyond the womb. Annie Murphy Paul is giving poor treatment to a very dynamic subject.

Nov. 08 2010 12:22 PM
Mike from Tribeca

I couldn't help but laugh the other night when a television document on Michelangelo claimed that the artist might have been traumatized for life while in the womb. That statement reeked of Scientology to me. Is anything like that even possible?

Nov. 08 2010 12:13 PM

shades of Nutrition and Physical degeneration by Weston A Price!

Nov. 08 2010 12:11 PM
Ed from Larchmont

It's becoming more and more obvious that the fetus is our brother and sister and needs to be treated as such. This means a change in behavior for women, but also for men.

Nov. 08 2010 11:51 AM

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