Oct 5, 2010

Effects of Poverty and Trauma on Children Begins in the Womb

In our peace building programs going on in the war zones of Mindanao, Philippines, AAI stresses the importance of trauma counseling among all residents. Whether children or adults, the cycles of violence and self-destructive behavior can only be altered with a full community commitment to healing on personal, family and societal levels. In his recent column in the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof added an extra biological dimension. This involves lingering effects of trauma in high poverty and violence-plagued communities. Scientists have found that chemical, ecological, and biological effects on a pregnant woman can cause her children to be detrimentally effected with life-long consequences even while they are in her womb. These new discoveries reinforce the need for integrated health and nutrition programs for expectant mothers and children. We are helping to support this healing processes through AAI's Development for Peace programs -- Al Santoli

At Risk From the Womb

The New York Times
By Nicholas D. Kristof
October 2, 2010

Some people think we’re shaped primarily by genes. Others believe that the environment we grow up in is most important. But now evidence is mounting that a third factor is also critical: our uterine environment before we’re even born.

Researchers are finding indications that obesity, diabetes and mental illness among adults are all related in part to what happened in the womb decades earlier.

Stress in mothers seems to have particularly strong effects on their offspring, perhaps through release of cortisol, a hormone released when a person is anxious. Studies show that children who were in utero during the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War of 1967 were more likely to have schizophrenia diagnosed as adults. And The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that Chinese born during the terrible famine from 1959 to 1961 were twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as those born at other times.

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