More and more research is coming out supporting the idea that mothers who carry their children who have been conceived via donor egg may have more influence over their child’s genetics than previously thought, including overall health and temperament. Not only do chemicals, diet and the home environment influence how the child develops, but the mother’s experiences also shift and imprint onto the unborn child’s DNA, making mothers very influential during the 9 month gestation of pregnancy, both emotional and physical, as the two to are linked more than we might know.
Various epigenetic studies show that diet effects pregnancy, the child’s health, and the child’s entire biological future. For example, during studies on fasting during famines throughout history, babies who did not have mothers who were eating during the majority and end of the pregnancy never caught up on birth weight when tracked over the course of their lives, no matter how much they tried to catch up. Small amounts of nutritive struggle did not influence the child’s birth weight or weight throughout their lives. And during a flu epidemic? Researchers discovered that individuals gestated during the pandemic suffered much more than babies gestated during non-flu times, up to 20% more likely to have heart disease, 15% less likely to graduate from high school, and the men earned up to 9% lower wages. Women who are stressed out, especially but potentially not limited to during catastrophic events, have children who are more at risk of developing fetal stress and mental health issues throughout their lives.
In fact, humans may be more genetically diverse that we once thought. Studies of microchimerism and epigenetics show that there is much more flexibility in genetics than once thought. Cells from the fetus can pass through the BBB (blood brain barrier) and enter the brain, and we also know that cells from men can be found in women, suggesting that we are more of a genetic ecosystem than a stationary template.
The next few decades will unravel more and more of the mystery of genetics and epigenetics, and until we have a fuller understanding, mothers and fathers to be take note! Healthy parents = healthy child!