Developmental Influence In The Prenatal Environmet Essay
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Developmental Influences in the Prenatal Environment: Identifying Risk Factors and Protective Measures
Understanding the stages of prenatal development is important to every expectant parent, because at different stages the developing fetus is susceptible to different dangers at different points. According to M Cole, S .R Cole, and Lightfoot (2005), “different sources of environmental influence can reach the fetus through changes in the mother and be transmitted through the placenta” (p.82). The mother’s body chemistry may be altered by factors ranging from general environmental circumstances through to her attitude toward having the baby, emotional state, food she eats, and her general health (p.82). In this paper I will not only focus on the fact that the mother’s own health, habits and nutritional status, both before and during pregnancy, strongly influence the birth of a healthy baby, but also on environmental factors that can lower those odds. I will discuss the difficulty in identifying specific consequences of these factors as well as identify protective factors and intervention.
Stress and Nutrition Acute stress brought about by changes in or reactions to daily living can affect pregnancy, but the mechanisms responsible for stress-related effects are not entirely clear (Harris, 1986, p.128). Burton, Westen, and Kowalski (2009) argue that children whose mothers were under significant stress during pregnancy tend to have more problems with attention and motor activity; however, according to Stechler and Halton (1982) “ it is extremely difficult to evaluate the effects of maternal emotional stress on the developing fetus, because it is so hard to eliminate this one factor from all the others associated with women under stress, such as malnutrition, poor health, or drug use” (cited in Dworetzky, 1993, p.83). While it may not be possible for a pregnant