Friday, January 30, 2009

The Fragile Male

Sandra Dodd's response to my post got me thinking about prenatal influences. The science of fetal programming is relatively new, but provacative. The basic idea is that things that happen to us in utero have lifelong effects. For instance:
  • Gestational Diabetes – If a mother has gestational diabetes during her pregnancy, her child is at increased risk for obesity, glucose intolerance and diabetes
  • Birth Weight – Men who weighed less than 5 ½ pounds at birth have a 50% greater risk of dying of heart disease than men who weighed 9 ½ pounds at birth
  • Stress – Children of women who experience extreme stress during pregnancy (whether due to financial, housing or safety concerns) are more prone to allergies and anemia

I'd also read that male fetuses are more vulnerable than female fetuses, so I looked for more information. Here is what I found. (The article is rather long, but definitely worth the read)

Did you know, for instance, that male babies are physiologically less developed at birth than female infants? Or that boys are more likely to be negatively affected by maternal postpartum depression than girls?

I love the author's conclusion: "If parents were more aware of male sensitivity, they might change the way they treat their sons. "

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