It’s all our fault. AGAIN.
We mums get the blame for everything, don’t we? But this time even science says so.
A raft of studies have now been conducted backing up the theory that a mother’s (and, on occasion father’s) behaviour both pre-conception, and while pregnant has a lasting impact on your outcomes for the rest of your life.
Oh the guilt.
According to the experts everything from what we eat to the air we breathe can impact upon our unborn babies.
Luckily most of us mums are pretty used to guilt so we will just add this to a long, long list of things-to-feel-guilty-about-today and do our best at harm minimisation.
We all know about the big ones that our doctors warn us against – no drinking, no smoking and no soft cheeses, but there are a whole host of other factors that can change the life course of our unborn babies.
A paper from Princeton University has found that “the nine months spent in utero is increasingly recognised as a critical period that affects a person's health and economic outcomes over the entire life course. Indicators of health at birth such as birth weight have been found to predict future outcomes including earnings, employment, education and the health of the next generation.”
Researchers have found that a mother’s emotional state during pregnancy can affect the development of her baby’s brain.
Called “fetal programming” -where a changing environment in the womb through different sensitive periods- alters the development of the fetus.
One explanation is that the fetus is exposed to increased amounts of the stress hormone, cortisol when a mother-to-be goes through stressful periods. Exposure to raised cortisol levels in the amniotic fluid is associated with lower cognitive function in the child later on.
Watch how stress during pregnancy can impact their child later in life. (Post continues after video.)
Research has also shown that if your mother was stressed while she was pregnant with you it will affect your verbal IQ, making it drop by about half a standard deviation. And the list goes on, stress can even affect an unborn baby's co-o-ordination with new research from West Australia finding that children with the poorest motor function were born to mothers who had recorded three or more stressful events during pregnancy.
We all know the importance of following a healthy diet and taking the right vitamins during pregnancy.