The article entitled,"The mystery of fetal life: Secrets from the womb" (Pekkanen, 2001) starts out with a brief discussion about an embryo's development (e.g. rapid cell division, cell differentiation, development of organs) capabilities (e.g. movement of arms/legs, swallowing, awareness, sending hormonal signals) and threats (e.g. mother's emotions, health and behaviors, environmental factors) while in the mother's uterus. The importance of positive prenatal development to not only fetal life, but also to post-labor life is strongly stressed in this article.
Commonly, expectant mothers are advised complete abstinence from alcohol. The author notes that this advice is due to health-care professional's fear that without such advice, expectant mothers will drink immoderately. Immoderate drinking by expectant mothers has been linked to lower IQ scores of the children born to those mothers as well as fetal alcohol syndrome. An expectant mother should pay close attention to any medication she may be taking as well as anything that she consumes and is exposed to.
Infections contracted by the mother are said to be dangerously harmful during pregnancy (e.g. influenza, toxoplasmosis) and are said to be linked to cerebral-palsy, dyslexia, schizophrenia, and metal retardation to name a few.
A particularly interesting factor that has been linked to have a negative affect on fetal development consists of over 50 identifiable man-made chemicals called endocrine disruptors (there are hundreds more that are suspected out of the over 90,000 produced synthetic chemicals). When these synthetic chemicals get into cells at a particular time/strength, hormone levels are changed and consequently an aspect of the fetus' development is stunted. An example of such chemical is polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which has been found to cause neurological defects, even from very little exposure.
Very interesting research has been conducted to evidence fetal memory and what it means. A research study found that...