For most expecting parents, thinking of violence as it pertains to actions of their soon to be newborn is nearly impossible. Infants are tiny, fragile and innocent, but researchers believe violent tendencies may be associated with prenatal lifestyle choices.
There are some studies that associate violent behaviors with genetic abnormalities and tendencies, but researchers believe there is more to it than genetics. According to a new research study, the choices of the pregnant woman may directly influence violent tendencies of infants later in life. The term biological refers to eating habits, exposure to lead and other factors.
There is a long list of lifestyle choices and events that could lead to increased violent behavior in children, young adults and adults. Among these are nutrition before pregnancy, nutrition during pregnancy, infant nutrition, lead exposure, use of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs. Depression during pregnancy and stress during birth may also lead to changes in behavior.
According to a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control, more than $170 billion in healthcare costs are incurred each year as a result of violent behaviors like gunshots and stabbings. Violent deaths are the 3rd leading cause of death in people aged 10 to 34. If violent behaviors start in-utero, there is a chance to alter certain lifestyle choices and exposures to reduce the effect on the fetus and thus reduce the impact of violent behavior on society as a whole.
The role of prevention is not focused on one person or group of persons. Obstetricians, health care providers, nurses, nutritionists and pregnant women all hold the weight of change equally. With proper education and nutritional advice, women can make proper choices. Regular lead testing and education about risk factors associated with lead exposure is also highly important.
Researchers noted that nurses play one of the most important parts of prevention in a clinical setting. Nurses can offer advice and education to pregnant women and new mothers via obstetric care. Pediatric nurses can continue that education during the first 36 months when brain and body development is most critical. Finally, nurses in a family physician setting can enforce proper nutrition and healthy habits during early adulthood and into reproductive years.
Source: University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. 19 September, 2011.