Stress in mothers affects the development of the baby's brain in the belly

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Catherine Le Nevez
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While still inside the womb, the brain of the future baby not only does not rest at all, but rather lives his period of greater development, with hundreds of thousands of neuronal connections that every day are "activated" to shape the thinking organ of the fetus.

During this phase, the connection between mother and baby in the belly is maximum, so much so that every activity, whether physical or cognitive, performed by the mother, inevitably goes to affect on the growth of the fetus and, in particular, on the development of his brain.

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And precisely this aspect was the focus of the study that the research group of the Wayne State University presented on the occasion of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society of Boston.

In this research, coordinated by the expert Moriah Thomason, it is clearly shown how the stress of mothers goes to modify with a certain incidence the connections between neurons of small fetuses.

A systematic review

To come to such conclusions, Dr. Thomason and her team have

performed a series of magnetic resonances su 47 fetuses between 30 and 37 weeks of gestation, choosing pregnant and clinically healthy women for sampling but different from each other by social extraction(rich and poor, educated and less educated) e psychological conditions (healthy, depressed, ansiogene, stressed etc ...).


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It was thus found that the women more stressed they were carrying fetuses with neural systems organized less efficiently in the various brain regions.

"The brain does not develop in a sequence that goes from the simplest systems - such as sight, movement - to the more complex ones," said Thomason, "but probably develop the most critical areas first».

Wayne State University research has therefore begun to scratch the surface of a field of study from implications still rather obscure, but in these first bars the scholars seem oriented to identify the cerebellum as possible responsible for the process.

In fact, thanks to the high presence of glucocorticoid receptors, the hormones involved in the stress response, would be the organ of the human body more sensitive to the effects of prenatal stress.

  • brain
  • neurons
  • connessioni
  • stress
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