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August 25, 2011 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Birthweight link to lifespan and lifelong health. 'Why does one person die younger and another survive to old age? Lifestyle and genetic factors play a role, but' 'a better predictor of future health is our birthweight and what it tells us about our development in the womb.' 'The birthweight of a baby reflects how well it was nourished in the womb and the risk of chronic disease in later life. It is better to be 7lb (3.2kg) at birth than 6lb - better to be 8lb than 7lb. This implies that variations in the supply of food from normal healthy mothers to normal healthy babies have huge implications for the long-term health of the baby.'

However, childhood obesity is a growing problem, and there is convincing research showing that 'women who gain too much weight during pregnancy tend to have newborns with a high amount of body fat, regardless of the mother's weight before pregnancy.'

While we have known for a long time that 'pre-pregnancy diet affects the health of future offspring' across all animal species, it appears that many more factors over which a woman has little to no control, affect the health of babies: for example, the combination of the mother's body size (height and weight) and placental shape and size predict heart disease in men.

There are of course, also factors which the mother can control, such as smoking. It is quite clear that smoking during pregnancy can have wide-ranging and deleterious effects on the health of the child for the rest of its life.

While folic acid is a famous example, the use of supplements during various critical phases of the pregnancy has been intensively investigated.

'Heart disease, cancer, diabetes. These are some of the chronic diseases that determine lifespan.

We know some of the causes such as hardening of the arteries, rising blood pressure or insulin resistance, but why do some people suffer them more than others?

Obesity, cigarette smoking and psychosocial stress have all been implicated. Genes offer another possibility but they are unlikely to explain why coronary heart disease was rare 100 years ago but is now the commonest cause of death around the world.

Our search for ways to prevent today's chronic diseases has largely failed. Soon there will be 250 million people with diabetes worldwide, yet many of those are neither overweight nor inactive.

One of the most striking studies of the causes of diabetes was carried out in rural India among villagers living what might be considered a model lifestyle. They typically ate a vegetarian diet, were physically active and thin. Yet diabetes was prevalent.

Long-term studies there and elsewhere have shown that people who develop chronic disease often grew differently to other people in the womb and during childhood. Their birthweights tend to be towards the lower end of the normal range.

It seems people are like motorcars. They can break down if they are driven on rough roads but that is more likely if they were badly made in the first place.

Our early development in the womb sets up our constitution, how vulnerable we are to negative things that we encounter and how we will cope with them for the rest of our lives.'
posted by VikingSword (55 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Genes offer another possibility but they are unlikely to explain why coronary heart disease was rare 100 years ago but is now the commonest cause of death around the world.

Maybe because way more people are surviving into adulthood? Just a thought.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:13 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is better to be 7lb (3.2kg) at birth than 6lb - better to be 8lb than 7lb.

MY 50LB BABY SHALL BE IMMORTAL
posted by dubold at 1:14 PM on August 25, 2011 [18 favorites]


Well, I guess I'll be dying at a relatively young age. On the bright side, I don't have worry about making RRSP contributions.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:16 PM on August 25, 2011


Welp, I guess I'm screwed.








at least until a complementary study reveals I have an advantage that balances out the fact that I weighed five pounds and at least a third of that was ears.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:17 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought this had a lot to do with if your mother is petite or not -- I was under 6 lbs, and my whole family is teeny women.
posted by sweetkid at 1:17 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


MY 50LB BABY SHALL BE IMMORTAL

Goo Emperor
posted by griphus at 1:20 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of one of my favorite articles on Let's Panic About Babies.

From More Things Pregnant Women Shouldn't Be Allowed To Do:
WalMart: Should recruit pregnant women as greeters so that everyone can keep an eye on them

PepsiCo: Should invent a soft drink for pregnant women that contains folic acid and shame
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:20 PM on August 25, 2011 [23 favorites]


One of the most striking studies of the causes of diabetes was carried out in rural India among villagers living what might be considered a model lifestyle. They typically ate a vegetarian diet, were physically active and thin. Yet diabetes was prevalent.

Indian villagers don't have anything close to a model diet, that's for sure. The typical Indian villager eats lots of carbs, carbs, carbs, with the doses of poor quality oils and shortenings (including plenty of trans fats) and very little in the way of protein or healthy fats. The high prevalence of diabetes in this population is not surprising at all. The prevalence is even higher among wealthier urbanites, with less exercise and even larger portions of rice and wheat breads.
posted by peacheater at 1:32 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, obviously we shouldn't do any research about anything to do with pregnancy and parenting in case it makes someone, somewhere, feel uncomfortable. Ignorance is bliss!

Our early development in the womb sets up our constitution, how vulnerable we are to negative things that we encounter and how we will cope with them for the rest of our lives.'

So a country that wants to spend less on healthcare in the long run would do well to, I don't know, support pregnant women, rather than, say stigmatize solo mothers.
posted by rodgerd at 1:33 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was 10lbs. My uncle was 12. This bodes well.
posted by klanawa at 1:53 PM on August 25, 2011


I was 10-7. (I was also not of woman born, as my mother is rather petite.) So does this make me close to immortal, or am I in the "fat babies die early" group? My decision on whether to continue spending every penny I earn depends on knowing this, TIA.
posted by maxwelton at 1:57 PM on August 25, 2011


If you're interested in this topic, I highly recommend Dalton Conley et al.'s The Starting Gate: Birth Weight and Life Chances. The topic is not only interesting in itself, but for the insights it gives into the relationship of the biological and the social, the relationship between nature vs. nurture, and how inequality perpetuates itself.
posted by jonp72 at 2:03 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


A little anecdata from my own life: when I was born in 1975 to an unwed Mexican mother on the doorstop of an apartment building before a passing cab took us to the hospital... I was two months premature and weighed 3 lbs 2oz. I was immediately given up for adoption and was in foster homes for the first two years of my life. My adoptive parents were told I was developmentally disabled and would be stunted in my physical growth, frail, weakly, sick and allergic to most everything.

My mother, who was then getting her degree as a dietician, disagreed. She quickly found that I wasn't actually allergic to most anything. I ate like a horse, grew up slightly above average in height and broad shouldered. I went through most of my school years without getting sick or missing a single day. And while some on MeFi might disagree with me, I think I'm a pretty bright and talented guy- certainly not developmentally disabled, as my mom realized when I was phonetically reading her college text book at age 3 1/2.


I guess my point is not to boast, but rather to say that human beings are incredibly adaptable, and little good is done by telling us what our future is certain to be because of our genes or our past.
posted by hincandenza at 2:04 PM on August 25, 2011 [22 favorites]


8lb, 6 oz in the house.

Life will be good, once you low birthweighters are gone.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:09 PM on August 25, 2011


Oh, hincandenza. That's just a bunch of feelgoodery. The point here is to make pregnant women feel terrible! How else will we control their every move and consumer behavior?

Come on, science. Let's see more studies vaguely blaming dads for stuff:

FATHERS WHO COMPLAIN ABOUT "HOW MUCH THIS IS ALL COSTING" DURING GESTATION LINKED TO MOODINESS, BIZARRE FASHION CHOICES IN ADOLESCENT OFFSPRING

SURPRISING CORRELATIONS BETWEEN NOT RUBBING YOUR PREGNANT WIFE'S FEET OFTEN ENOUGH AND YOUR KID NOT GETTING INTO STANFORD

YOU MISSED THAT ONE ULTRASOUND APPOINTMENT AND NOW YOUR KID IS KIND OF A JERK: COULD IT BE YOUR FAULT?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 2:11 PM on August 25, 2011 [37 favorites]


Thanks for that hincandenza. Though hang on, I weighed a lot more than my brother when I was born, I will out-health him! Ha ha!

..and my baby girl was 11 pounds! woo!
posted by dabitch at 2:13 PM on August 25, 2011


The point here is to make pregnant women feel terrible! How else will we control their every move and consumer behavior?

With chocolate?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:13 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


> The point here is to make pregnant women feel terrible! How else will we control their every move and consumer behavior?

The Simpsons nailed this in that episode where Marge was seen reading an issue of Fretful Mother Magazine.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:19 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I too was an enormous fucking baby. Still am in a lot of ways.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:19 PM on August 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


I heartily agree with hincandenza here. Human beings are indeed, incredibly adaptive, and to give them a life reading from the most basic of indicators such as birth weight is misleading and potentially causing of much distress that is unnecessary.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be a modicum of advance warning and knowledge, that's not the point, although how many people who're given a fateful diagnosis, almost as if to spite that fateful diagnosis go on to thrive and thumb their nose at it as hincandenza obviously did.

This whole looking into one's medical future history thing, is ripe for abuse and I wonder if the Pandora's box of bs it's going to open up is worth it, if there isn't a definitive and 100% forecast of a certain aliment or disease.

More directly with this study, I call bullshit on it, because to me, all birthweight represents is the biological relationship of the fetus to the mother and the relative combined efficiency of that one time biological connection. Babies are born at 4, 5 or 6 LB that go on to quickly out grow their age group in both height and weight, as well as intelligence and relative health or lack of it (as opposed of course to the various common aliments that all babies go through in the first years towards toddler-hood that are just par for the course).

The other aspect of this study that gives me serious pause is that it seems to discount the health and genetic make-up of the father.

If anything birthweight is only one factor in a number of different factors, through time, before and sometimes a year or two, after the birth that might give some understanding of a child's general level of health.
posted by Skygazer at 2:21 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh no, Brandon: chocolate has...caffeine! It will also kill the baby, just like tuna, baloney (all processed meats in fact), undercooked chicken, insufficient quantities of spinach, drinking non-organic milk, breathing trace amounts of cigarette smoke and/or hairspray, and standing too close to the microwave while heating up your organic unsweetened oatmeal fortified with prenatal vitamins.

Jeez. Everyone knows that.
posted by emjaybee at 2:22 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


The other aspect of this study that gives me serious pause is that it seems to discount the health and genetic make-up of the father.

Well, the health of the father is only relevant insofar as it affects the sperm. Otherwise, it matters far less since he's not actually building a fetus using his own body. A fairly hard-living dad can still make healthy sperm.

Genetic make up though, of course.

I am still eager for the results of that insufficient foot-rubbing study mentioned upthread, personally.
posted by emjaybee at 2:26 PM on August 25, 2011


The point here is to make pregnant women feel terrible!

Well, it makes me feel terrible. Our daughter is now 16 months. She was born by c-section and weighed 5lbs 13oz. She's still very small for her age, but by all relative measures very bright and healthy. I was small and my wife was small. We're both average size now, and were both excellent endurance athletes.

I don't think studies like this are bad, or wrong to publish, or inaccurate. But, I love my daughter more than anyone can imagine and to think she is disadvantaged in any way breaks my heart. She's everything to me. I have a very big complex that she's small and always try to get her to eat everything. I'm adopted and don't have any family history myself. I don't know if I'll die at 50 or 90.

Life is unpredictable, short and often hard. I don't know how I could have made her bigger. I don't know if I could have done anything different. I try not to think about it. But I do.
posted by jimmythefish at 2:26 PM on August 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


thehmsbeagle: The point here is to make pregnant women feel terrible! How else will we control their every move and consumer behavior?

This.

It's not until you've dealt with the Prego-Industrialized Complex, and all it's medical and related powerhouse institutions that you realize just how small you really are in the face of massive corporate power.

The Prego-Industrialized Complex, can make the Military Industrialized Complex quake in it's Army issue boots and cry for it's mommy if it wanted to too...


I wish I was merely joking.
posted by Skygazer at 2:28 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gee, I don't know about this "making women feel terrible" claim as it relates to this study (or indeed the FPP). The study is looking at certain statistical correlations (birthweight) and public health. It's not realistic to address the subject of public health, and not perform such studies.

Now, no question there is a whole industry devoted to "baby panic" and women control/shaming as seen in pop media, but I frankly don't see it here. It's just an attempt to understand how gestation impacts lifelong health. If there are methodological problems with the study, that's a legitimate issue to pursue, but to impute some kind of ideological agenda to the researchers seems quite unfair.
posted by VikingSword at 2:41 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, crap. I was a 10+ pound baby.

*smokes more*
posted by loquacious at 2:43 PM on August 25, 2011


Emjaybee: Genetic [of the father] make up though, of course.

Yes, a lifetime of a father's genetic code spinning out, versus what's essentially a biological delivery system of 9 months.

I mean, all props for what women go through, but it is only 9 months.
posted by Skygazer at 2:43 PM on August 25, 2011


I was 8.5 pounds. I'm gonna live forever.
posted by Decani at 2:47 PM on August 25, 2011


I have nothing against the researchers, assuming they're being good researchers, honest, etc.

I do feel that there is much black humor to be found in the way that the research around pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting is used to support half-baked "science" articles and nosy judgment from any and all.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:48 PM on August 25, 2011


This is called epigenetics and it's more of scientific interest than it is useful for guiding pregnant women or policy at this point.

Epigenetic effects aren't limited to the time in the womb: for example, early life experience (0-3 or so) seems to set up the stress system such that if you are highly stressed (neglect, abuse, orphanage with no real "parent" or multiple loss of key caregivers) you will be adapted better to doing well in high stress situations, but worse in normal ones and in contrast, if you have great early nurture, you're better adapted for most ordinary learning situations.

However, this is all statistical and the whole system remains remarkably plastic and the results aren't necessarily what you would predict. For example, there's one smoking study which found that women who quit while pregnant had happier babies than those who didn't smoke. What are you supposed to do with that information? Obviously, starting and quitting is not your best idea.

Further, consider so-called "crack babies." They were supposed to become a generation of superpredators and/or completely disabled people (it was never clear which: obviously being both at once would be rather difficult). As it turns out, crack is no more harmful to babies than maternal cigarette smoking: it's not good, it's linked with increased risk of most bad things (stillbirth, prematurity, etc.) but we had an entire generation of smoking mothers (nearly 50% of population in 50s early 60;s) and we did not have an entire generation lost.

And in fact, the "crack baby" generation turned out to do less drugs, have fewer pregnancies and be less violent than its elders.

(not to mention that alcohol, of course, is the major cause of drug-related harm to babies and the number one known cause of intellectual disability in children.)

Now, I'm not suggesting any pregnant women go out and smoke crack, drink heavily or smoke cigarettes. but there's an enormous tendency towards normal development and just because something is statistically significant and teaches us how genes are tuned to the environment doesn't mean we should all go put pregnant women in prison lest they be exposed to drugs or other things (in fact, that actually makes it worse).
posted by Maias at 3:17 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


11.5, but still way above average.

Hopefully it will even out.
posted by Mick at 3:27 PM on August 25, 2011


This doesn't really address that small people have smaller babies and visa versa. So is the weight relative? It's certainly not true that particularly large people live longer.
posted by straight_razor at 3:38 PM on August 25, 2011


I'm five feet tall and my first baby was nine pounds. No diabetes and natural birth. Do I get a trophy?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:57 PM on August 25, 2011


But the baby's development depends more on the food stored in her body and on the way her body handles food, which is the product of her lifetime nutrition. This will decide her baby's health in later life.

...placental growth depends on the structure and function of the mother's uterine wall, which is established during her own fetal life. Therefore, her own fetal experience necessarily affects placentation in her offspring.


Well, there you go. You can start eating healthily now, sure, and not even plan to have kids for another 5, 10 years, but if you ate too many cheeseburgers, fries or pizza as a teen, your baby will be unhealthy forever!

But don't blame yourself. It's your Mom's fault! Your Mom didn't think ahead enough, and screwed up that uterine wall development during your own time in the womb, dammit, so there's no way your baby is going to turn out all right now. You might as well just give up the baby-making idea entirely.

/hamburger

I am so, so glad I am not thinking of starting a family now. This kind of thing could really make a pregnant or trying-to-conceive woman just go crazy. And that stress is, I'm sure, not good for the health of the baby either.

I am highly dubious about these predictors.

The Barker heart-disease risk study uses data compiled from Finnish children and pregnant women in the 1930s and 1940s, which has been used in a quadrillion studies because they took precise measurements of all kinds of things, from head circumference to placental shape.

While it is great we have that data, we are talking about a group of ~6000 Dutch people--a group which suffered through a 5-month famine during wartime occupation--being used to extrapolate all kinds of health risks and developmental issues for every pregnant woman/baby on the planet. These babies' brains "aged faster", they were at a higher risk for schizophrenia, heart disease, obesity, short life span...and all of these things are being directly linked to their birth weights.

I just think we are too quick to assume the health problems they have are a result of the only data we just happen to have on them.

The Barker Foundation's goal is a worthy one, though: The mission of the Foundation is to improve the growth and development of babies and young children by ensuring that girls and young women have varied and balanced diets. To achieve this mission, the Foundation will promote public engagement, training and research.
posted by misha at 4:10 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't the significance of findings like these that they give us practical (as opposed to moral) reasons why it's necessary to help and support the many women around the world whose circumstances don't allow them the option of eating well during their pregnancies? (Especially in many of our own countries, where we could easily do something about it if only we cared enough?) It sucks that studies like this end up being used to terrify pregnant women, and it particularly sucks when the same women who don't have a lot of choices in the first place are the ones being terrified, but it still seems to me that stuff like this is legitimate and important. This is not the type of thing I want to snark on.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 4:33 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not a black/white, either/or situation. It can be valuable research into the Big Picture and also be used to terrify pregnant women, which is why I think it is fine to snark on.
posted by misha at 4:38 PM on August 25, 2011


I too am immortal and laugh at the suffering low-birth-weighters from my high seat on Mt. Olympus.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:42 PM on August 25, 2011


(Forgot to add: 10lbs)
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:43 PM on August 25, 2011


and that was supposed to read: "at the suffering of"

Ah, well, who cares, I have countless eons to perfect my typing skills!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:45 PM on August 25, 2011


Two lbs. 13 oz. Nice knowing you guys.
posted by xigxag at 4:48 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aces! I was more than 12 pounds at birth. My poor mother...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:00 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was 5lbs. 11oz.

I guess that explains all my health problems.
posted by Malice at 5:00 PM on August 25, 2011


There's no reason to think the correlations in the Dutch hunger winter studies are artifacts any more than any others would be: it would be kind of strange to find so many of them pointing in the same direction and varying with trimester of exposure if *nothing* was happening. It's kind of hard to think of other variables that would have accounted for this, especially since the effects can also be seen in animals.

Nonetheless, correlation isn't cause and it's always possible that there's some other factor. More important, in my view, is that none of this *dooms anyone to anything* because there are so many other variables that raise and lower these risks as well.

For example, if I recall correctly, it doubled the risk of schizophrenia or something that sounds scary. That would mean that the absolute risk then goes from 1% to 2%— and it might be even less.
posted by Maias at 6:04 PM on August 25, 2011


I was 9lbs but my mom smoked 2 (that she will admit to) cigarettes while pregnant.

So should I kick that down to 7lbs?
posted by Kloryne at 6:20 PM on August 25, 2011


I wonder if this study will convince doctors and nurses and women's magazines to stop constantly harassing pregnant women about keeping their weight gain down during pregnancy.

Probably not.
posted by BlueJae at 7:07 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was under 3 lbs when I was born at seven months. My daughter was full term, but only 5 lbs and 13 oz. She's had some serious health issues, and even though logically I know her physical ailments aren't my fault it's hard not to feel personally responsible.

Statistics like these don't help.

I've never been able to forget Satoshi Kon's final blog post quoting his mom. "I'm so sorry, for not bringing you into this world with a stronger body!"

Me too.

posted by Space Kitty at 7:40 PM on August 25, 2011


I'm screwed then. I was born at 25 weeks, and as my mother is fond of saying, weighed less than a pound of butter. But that was 37 years ago, when they had literally never heard of a baby surviving at that age and yet I'm still here (and at 30 weeks, expecting a child of my own). So we'll see how things go. I'll check in at 75 and let you know if I'm still kicking on.
posted by Jubey at 7:43 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


5 lbs 8 ozs, born six weeks premature. So underweight for a full-term baby but big for a preemie. So what does this mean for me?
posted by madcaptenor at 8:09 PM on August 25, 2011


Adopted, no idea. Whenever these studies come out I realize how glad I am to have no idea. It's freeing.
posted by ifjuly at 8:49 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]



Adopted, no idea. Whenever these studies come out I realize how glad I am to have no idea. It's freeing.


We could always just tell youngsters in your situation that they were above average birth weight, regardless. You know, placebo effect and all.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:13 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is called epigenetics and it's more of scientific interest than it is useful for guiding pregnant women or policy at this point.

No, "This" is not called Epigenetics. Epigenics is a very specific thing related to DNA and how it's stored and structured (particularly DNA methylation) . And more importantly any epigenetics transfer happens before the child is conceived. Once it starts growing in the womb it's using it's own DNA, not the mothers.

Another reason why this isn't technically epigenetics is that you're not passing on the mother's traits to the kids. So for example, if a woman eats a lot during pregnancy and has a large baby, that doesn't mean that she herself had been a large baby. So it's not passing on a trait of the mother

There is a lot of abuse of that word out there. It means a specific scientific thing and people are starting to use it to mean all kinds of other nonsense.
posted by delmoi at 10:16 PM on August 25, 2011


But, I love my daughter more than anyone can imagine and to think she is disadvantaged in any way breaks my heart. She's everything to me. I have a very big complex that she's small and always try to get her to eat everything.

It looks like it's just saying there's a correlation between low birth weight and life outcomes but there are lots of things one might expect to be often true about the environmental and social factors surrounding some low birth weight babies, like a family history of poor nutrition, economic hardship, that aren't true about *all* low birth weight babies.

Maybe you could try to look at it as one part of a whole picture of health and well-being as opposed to a major predictive factor for your particular situation, because what you're describing sounds kind of stressful. If you and your wife are both 'excellent endurance athletes' it sounds like you live in a healthy household and I'd be amazed if that didn't have greater influence on the lifelong health of an individual child than a low birth weight in a child who is 'by all relative measures bright and healthy.'

I guess I'm saying this because as a parent I really feel why you'd be saying this. Our kid was an average birth weight and is still an average weight, but she's an indifferent eater even at three years and still considers milk her primary food group. So if I were watching her take five hours to eat ten little cereal O's and simultaneously worrying that she was too small and was going to be unhealthy for the rest of her life I think my head would explode.

My sincere apologies if I'm out of line but if your doctor says she's 'bright and healthy' and you think she's 'bright and healthy' maybe it would be okay to worry a little less?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:27 AM on August 26, 2011


No, "This" is not called Epigenetics. Epigenics[sic] is a very specific thing related to DNA.

Your link basically says exactly the opposite of what you just said. It says "epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence," of which DNA methylation is but one example out of many. It also addresses epigenetic treatment of cancer, which makes it clear that the term is not restricted to before conception, but can be used to describe events at any point in an organism's life.

So it's not passing on a trait of the mother

Yes, except no. Epigenetic traits don't have to be passed on from parent to child. They can be passed on from the organism to itself, more specifically, from one affected cell to its descendants in the body. Again, quoting from your own link, "Epigenetic changes are preserved when cells divide. Most epigenetic changes only occur within the course of one individual organism's lifetime, but, if a mutation in the DNA has been caused in sperm or egg cell that results in fertilization, then some epigenetic changes are inherited from one generation to the next."
posted by xigxag at 8:06 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like how the book Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives explains a lot of the scientific studies, while focusing on what we can do to support pregnant women (rather than give them more guilt). I think it's great to know, for instance, that in disasters, we really should be doing as much as possible to keep pregnant women comfortable, rather than expecting them to be supermoms.
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:53 AM on August 27, 2011


292222, then I'd inevitably be susceptible to a downer when some newer study found benefits to low birthweight or whatever. My point is, not knowing anything frees me entirely from this sort of thing where studies come out approximately every 5 seconds that make you feel blue about something you can't change now, whether it's your genetics or gestation or whatever. I get to not rue that irrevocable stuff, and that's nice.
posted by ifjuly at 7:48 PM on August 27, 2011


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