Developing a poor economy in utero

We tend to assume that the financial state of a community is the root cause for an increase or decrease within its economy. However, this is not necessarily the whole truth or the entire picture. A community’s health status, or lack thereof, can set the stage for its economic health for both the present and the future. The future of any community’s economy is highly influenced by those who are not yet born.

Economic research studies have shown that long term effects of any person’s life before birth can be measured through an economic analyses. It has been discovered that individuals who were in utero during a time of famine, chronic stress, or even a pandemic (to name a few examples) show lower education attainment, lower income, lower socioeconomic status, suffer higher rates of disability, more likely to be on welfare, have a chronic health condition, and other illnesses when compared to individuals who did not experience these situations in utero.

For example, in 1918 there was a flu pandemic which affected a third of all American women who were of child-bearing age. Fifty years later those same individuals who were fetuses during the pandemic had performed worse in school and were earning less than those slightly older or younger. Studies also found that when male fetuses were exposed they were 20% more likely to be disabled. Therefore, this pandemic technically lasted throughout the lives of those exposed in utero.

Another study found that babies born to Dutch women who were pregnant during the 1944–45 “hunger winter” were more prone in adulthood to health issues including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, schizophrenia, and depression.

In addition, a fetal-origins study found that Swedes born in the months after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident were 40% more likely to fail in middle school than those born just before or after. And get this; they were exposed to radiation in doses that is now considered harmless. Harmless to who exactly? Certainly not babies in utero.

A study in England showed that children whose first trimester in utero overlapped with the Ramadan, when observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, lagged behind educationally when they were seven.

These exposures have an epigenetic influence on these fetuses and set them up to be more vulnerable to certain situations in life. Can this be changed? Most certainly! But it will take new lifestyle exposures starting after birth and continue throughout their life (like anyone else’s) to help them become less vulnerable.

As a fetus is exposed to certain life situations they are affected to have more vulnerability to chronic health conditions, lower cognitive ability, depression, welfare, and disability. They may have not been living in a “poor economy” but their development set them down that path in one way or another. Then these adults have babies themselves and these babies go through a similar life path because of the environment they were born into based on their parent’s and in some cases even grandparent’s life exposures. Remember, when a woman is pregnant she is impacting her own baby and her baby’s reproductive cell who are her future grandchildren.

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