Maternal Behaviours and the Fetus

1007 Words5 Pages
Possible effects of maternal behavior on fetal development with reference to the role of nutrition, physical exercise, illicit drugs, cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse. A fetus interacts with the surrounding world entirely through the placenta. The placenta is an organ formed from fetal and maternal tissues for the exchange of substances between fetal and maternal blood. This organ acts as its lungs, gut and excretory system. Mothers should maintain a good diet, stay healthy and not take part in any risky behavior, such as overusing legal drugs and abusing illegal drugs. Effects of maternal behavior may affect the fetus and cause long term damage to the infant throughout their life. Nutrition is the major intrauterine environmental factor that alters expression of the fetal genome and may have lifelong consequences. Alterations in fetal nutrition may result in developmental adaptations that permanently change the structure, physiology, and metabolism of the offspring, thereby predisposing individuals to metabolic, endocrine, and cardiovascular diseases in adult life. Maternal nutritional status can alter the epigenetic state (stable alterations of gene expression through DNA methylation and histone modifications) of the fetal genome. Maternal under nutrition during gestation reduces placental and fetal growth. Fetal growth is most vulnerable to maternal dietary deficiencies of nutrients (e.g., protein and micronutrients) during the peri-implantation period and the period of rapid placental development. Undernutrition in pregnant women may result from low intake of dietary nutrients owing to either a limited supply of food or severe nausea and vomiting. Also, significant problems arise from the mother being over- weight or obese due to over eating. Overnutrition can result from increased intake of energy and/or protein. Maternal obesity or overnutrition during

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