Recent studies have revealed that maternal stress, weight and eating habits can affect infant health well into adulthood. A new study now reports that life experiences of the mother during pregnancy may also have an impact on health; particularly brain development. According to the report presented at the 2011 Neuroscience meeting, the environment in which a pregnant woman lives and interacts can impact the fetus. Life experiences and environmental factors taken into consideration for the study include stress and drug use.

  • Researchers found that a protein associated with cell activation may also affect the plasticity of the brain.
  • Amphetamines and alcohol affect the number of chromosomes in the brain. Too many or too few chromosomes can lead to developmental problems and defects.
  • Cocaine-sensitivity may be altered if the father has used cocaine.
  • Natural breeding may result in inherited emotional behaviors from the father.

This study reinforces other studies that suggest many behaviors and health factors, previously thought to have no connection with inheritance, are indeed inherited. This study, however, does not focus solely on the effects of maternal choices and health on the fetus, but the impact of paternal choices and behavioral patterns as well.

Of particular interest is the passing of behavioral patterns from the father to offspring when pregnancy is conceived naturally as opposed to conception occurring as a result of assisted technology. Researchers plan to look into the factors that may contribute to this inheritance in future studies.

Source: Ian S. Maze PhD, Jerold Chun PhD, Chris Pierce PhD, Tracey Shors PhD, David Dietz PhD. Neuroscience 2011.