Unfortunately, it is impossible to say that when a fetus is still in the developmental stage in its mother’s womb, it is completely protected from any negative influence. Quite the contrary, there are many factors, including environmental impacts and mothers’ various experiences and actions, that are adverse to unborn babies and their health. Moreover, this impact is likely to spread both to the environment and the future generations of a particular family.
To begin with, it is necessary to discuss mothers’ specific actions and behaviors because they are the easiest to control. For instance, a pregnant woman’s consumption of tobacco, alcohol, or cocaine is likely to cause severe pathologies and diseases in their future children of other dangerous consequences (Sigelman & Rider, 2018). Thus, increased risk of miscarriage, prematurity, crossed placenta, and neuronal death, as well as respiratory problems, cleft palates and lips, CNS impairment, disrupted neuronal migration process, fetal alcohol syndrome, and fetal strokes are the aftermath of maternal neglect. What is more, a pregnant woman’s physical and mental state also influences her fetus. For instance, having rubella in the first two months of pregnancy leads to various birth defects like intellectual disability or blindness (Sigelman & Rider, 2018). Poorly controlled maternal diabetes increases the risk of premature delivery or miscarriage. Finally, severe emotional stress and anxiety, maternal obesity, malnutrition, and older age are also the factors that adversely impact a fetus.
As for environmental influence, it is not easily controlled and avoided because it usually refers to circumstances beyond the parents’ control. For example, according to Sigelman and Rider (2018), exposure to radiation may result in a child’s greater incidence of cancers and leukemia and a higher rate of intellectual disability. Various pollutants can cause impaired intellectual functioning, preterm birth, and lower birth weight. Due to the discussed factors, it becomes especially important for both future mothers and fathers to consider the hazards to prenatal development and keep in mind that every action of a pregnant woman may have adverse consequences and negatively influence not only the infant in the womb but also the future generations.
Sigelman, C. K., & Rider, E. A. (2018). Life-span: Human development. Cengage Learning.