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Epigenetics In Pregnancy And Childbirth

Various studies related to pregnancy and childbirth have gained importance in the recent times . One of them is “Epigenetic in Pregnancy and Childbirth” . Epigenetics is basically the study of how the environmental factors alter the expression of our genes, i.e. how our genetic material is translated into our physical characteristics. The foods we eat, our sleeping patterns, chemicals in our environment, etc. can all impact our gene expression. They alter our genes by turning them ‘on’ and ‘off’. These changes may be permanent and can be passed from one generation to other . Epigenetics refers to the changes to an individual’s genetic code that can alter gene expression , without changing the DNA sequence , and are passed from one cell generation to the next.

Komal Gupta

Komal Gupta

​Published on

21 May 2019

In the earlier times Pregnancy and Childbirth were not the topics that gained much importance, as these were considered the easiest of the tasks. However, these are the most discussed and studied topics nowadays because of their growing knowledge and concerns. Apparently, people now take their time to think about the best time to have a baby and begin their journey of parenthood, as it has not remained as easy and convenient as it used to be. One after the other studies are being done and experiments are being performed to know what all factors and conditions affects the baby inside the womb and the new born too. Having said so , people now do not take any risk to bring their offspring in an unhealthy environment. They want to make sure everything is perfect for their newborn.

Foetus development is impacted by the environment when we are pregnant . It can cause long-lasting effects on a child’s growth and health later in life . The actions of a future mother or father can have varied health effects on their children for years . A child can be influenced by the lifestyle and health of his/her parents and even grandparents before being born. Epigenetics has a hand in the transmission of a parents’ bad and good habits to his/her child’s health. Whatever conditions ailments, health and fitness levels and other habits men bring when they fertilize their partners are likely to affect not only the foetus, but the future progeny of the foetus too .

If we are overweight, unfit or have medical conditions, it is not at all good for our future children. If we eat healthy, exercise regularly and surround ourselves with people and good environment, our children are bound to get benefits out of it. Being healthy is beneficial for our children and being unhealthy is bad for them. For example , if we are over or underweight during pregnancy, it impacts the gene expression in our foetus. Later in life, this may affect the child’s body composition by making him/her over or underweight .

Sharing my personal experience, my son has a habit of sleeping late in the night. My husband and his parents follow the same pattern. They have a habit of being awake late in the night. I was of the opinion that this may not affect my son as he is too small to follow a pattern. But to my surprise, he is awake in the night for quite a long time, following the league of his family. This made me believe that epigenetics does play an important role in the future of our children .

To set up our kids and the kids of our kids with a better chance for a healthy life , we must follow the following habits –

Healthy weight – We need to avoid obesity, if we want to get pregnant . Being obese can influence the likelihood of our children becoming obese. Gaining weight during pregnancy is required, however, the weight gain should not be pointing towards obesity. women are required to gain a healthy weight while pregnant, as it is directly related to the health of the baby growing inside our womb.

Proper nutrition – Although we need to avoid obesity when pregnant , we should not deprive ourselves of proper nutrition during pregnancy. Eating healthy foods is a must during pregnancy , as it may affect the future course of our baby.

Eating whole foods – It is productive to prefer supplementation over actual food, but only in consultation with your doctor and considering the positive and negative effects they may have.

Reduce stress – If the mother undergoes significant stress before or during the time of pregnancy, the child may inherit some of the stress symptoms. Similarly, if fathers are put through stressful situations, they may transmit these conditions through their sperm. Stress in any form in parents is a bane for the child, whether it is passed on to the child from the mother or the father .

Limited exposure to pollutants – Children born to pollution exposed mothers have an increased chance of developing asthma and other allergic diseases, due to the epigenetic mechanism. A healthy environment is best suitable for a pregnant woman.

In a recent study performed by the Department of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, mice that were placed in cages with bigger, stronger males developed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. After ten days of this, they bred with females who had no such symptoms and it was found that the resulting offspring also exhibited symptoms of anxiousness and stress. Since the mothers did not bring any prior stresses or dysfunctions to the table, it was concluded that the symptoms displayed by pups were a direct result of the trauma that the fathers underwent before they bred.

If we are overweight , unfit or have medical conditions, it is not at all good for future of our children . If we eat healthy, exercise regularly and surround ourselves with people and good environment, our children are bound to get benefits out of it. Being healthy is beneficial for our children and being unhealthy is bad for them . For example, if we are over or underweight during pregnancy, it impacts the gene expression in our foetus . Later in life , this may affect the child’s body composition by making him/her over or underweight . Thus, a couple needs to be extra cautious before they decide to have a baby, as their habits and lifestyles will be affecting the growing foetus in the womb .

About Komal Gupta

 

From a working woman to a full-time mother, I am loving and living every phase of this new life. Leaving job was my decision as I wanted to be with my child during the early stages of his life. I wanted to witness his every action, from first cry to first word. I am happily employed as a full-time mother, whose remunerations are my child's hugs, kisses and laugh. 

 

This is personal experience and point of view of Mrs Komal Gupta as a mother. Happy Motherhood does not take responsibility for the contents and those not necessarily represent point of view of Happy Motherhood.

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