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Friday, June 05, 2009

You Are What Your Mother Worried About

For the first time, a study of rats has shown that when a mother experiences some form of trauma even before her pregnancy begins, it will still influence her offspring's behavior.
And there are strong implications for humans, especially mothers who have experienced the effects of war, natural disasters or social upheaval.

"The findings show that trauma from a mother's past, which does not directly impact her pregnancy, will affect her offspring's emotional and social behavior. We should consider whether such effects occur in humans, too," said study author Micah Leshem of the University of Haifa, in a press release announcing the study.

The results are published in the journal Developmental Psychology, and build on previous research that has explored the effects of trauma that a mother experiences during the course of her pregnancy. Until now, however, pre-conception adversity had not been examined.
The researchers — including Leshem and Alice Shachar-Dadon, also of the University of Haifa, and Jay Schulkin of the Georgetown University School of Medicine — chose to investigate rats because they are social mammals whose brains behave similarly to humans.


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