Sunday, September 26, 2010

What the Broccoli Says

The cover story in Time mag this week is about how the life of a baby in utero impacts that baby’s life. The article goes beyond conventional approaches to prenatal care. For instance, an Israeli study shows that the children of women who were in their first trimester of pregnancy during the Six-Day War in June of 1967 grew up to be significantly more prone to schizophrenia than the norm. Babies born to women who were under a lot of stress when pregnant have difficulty dealing with stress and are more prone to depression and mental illness. Maternal starvation (caused by famine or extreme poverty) during pregnancy is directly linked to heart disease in the babies they carried. The belief is that with limited nutritional resources, these deprived fetuses directed resources to brain development rather than heart development because the brain is a more important organ (although we clearly need both). Environmental pollutants, nutrition/food, the mother’s mental state, and, in fact, the state of the world, all have documented impacts on the unborn child. This goes beyond playing nice music to the baby in utero. This is about the state of the world the baby is coming into and the baby’s anxiety level in relation to entering that world. They have also drawn connections between low birthweight babies and heart disease, obesity in pregnant mothers and obesity in their offspring, and diabetic mothers disrupting the metabolism of the unborn child and predisposing the child to diabetes. The article explains why this research goes beyond genetics (since we all know that diabetes is genetic). I’m not going to go into detail about that here. I was excited to hear that research shows that babies born to women who ate a lot of broccoli when they were pregnant are significantly more resistant to cancer. I built my children out of broccoli and the broccoli says they should be healthy. But the whole article gave me pause about how much unborn children already know or sense about the horrifying state of the world which they are about to enter.

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