Thursday, May 24, 2012

The unborn child senses the mother's feelings: official

Can Fetus Sense Mother's Psychological State? Study Suggests Yes

ScienceDaily (Nov. 10, 2011) — As a fetus grows, it's constantly getting messages from its mother. It's not just hearing her heartbeat and whatever music she might play to her belly; it also gets chemical signals through the placenta. A new study, which will be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that this includes signals about the mother's mental state. If the mother is depressed, that affects how the baby develops after it's born.

In recent decades, researchers have found that the environment a fetus is growing up in -- the mother's womb -- is very important. Some effects are obvious. Smoking and drinking, for example, can be devastating. But others are subtler; studies have found that people who were born during the Dutch famine of 1944, most of whom had starving mothers, were likely to have health problems like obesity and diabetes later.

Curt A. Sandman, Elysia P. Davis, and Laura M. Glynn of the University of California-Irvine study how the mother's psychological state affects a developing fetus. For this study, they recruited pregnant women and checked them for depression before and after they gave birth. They also gave their babies tests after they were born to see how well they were developing.

They found something interesting: what mattered to the babies was if the environment was consistent before and after birth. That is, the babies who did best were those who either had mothers who were healthy both before and after birth, and those whose mothers were depressed before birth and stayed depressed afterward. What slowed the babies' development was changing conditions -- a mother who went from depressed before birth to healthy after or healthy before birth to depressed after. "We must admit, the strength of this finding surprised us," Sandman says.

Now, the cynical interpretation of our results would be that if a mother is depressed before birth, you should leave her that way for the well-being of the infant. "A more reasonable approach would be, to treat women who present with prenatal depression. Sandman says. "We know how to deal with depression." The problem is, women are rarely screened for depression before birth.
In the long term, having a depressed mother could lead to neurological problems and psychiatric disorders, Sandman says. In another study, his team found that older children whose mothers were anxious during pregnancy, which often is co morbid with depression, have differences in certain brain structures. It will take studies lasting decades to figure out exactly what having a depressed mother means to a child's long-term health.

"We believe that the human fetus is an active participant in its own development and is collecting information for life after birth," Sandman says. "It's preparing for life based on messages the mom is providing."
The study is entitled, "Prescient human fetuses thrive."


  1. This makes sense. Have just read "Untwinned". When one puts all the research done together this is very possible. In the 1950's depression in mother's was not treated correctly. But in hindsight my mother must have been in a very emotional state, having been married for 13 years with several miscarriages, and carrying me to term at the age of 36, no wonder there was disbelief when I was born 'healthy'. Then to find out there was a foetus papyraceous present as well. That had to be traumatic for her. No wonder I have picked up on all that emotional trauma and experienced what I have in my life. From many WTS symptoms mentioned, to unexplained Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, and yesterday during an Angiogram, a mild Apical Hypertrophy only diagnosed now. I am now going to read "Womb Twin Survivors". Learn something every day. Thank you for the books Althea. Regards Dee

  2. My mother suffered a miscarriage in 1953, probably brought on by the traumatic death of her father. I was conceived 2 months later. There were no ultrasounds back then, and if there was any physical evidence of my twin, nothing was mentioned to my parents. I heard that in the 50's and early 60's, doctors thought it best not to "upset" the mother with information on a lost, unknown twin or triplet. I have always thought I had a twin sister from a very early age. I had severe depression and anorexia as a young teenager. I have depression to this day. I was diagnosed with a heart ailment (branch bundle block) that is similar to the apical hypertrophy. (I was diagnosed 6 years ago at the age of 51, but I had bradycardia since my 20's and that is a precursor).Anyway, my point is I believe my mother was fraught with anxiety and depression for her entire pregnancy with me. It makes sense that any and all emotions from the mother would emanate to the fetus..and beyond birth.