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Thread: disaster stress on the unborn

  1. #1
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Default disaster stress on the unborn

    I was watching a show on PBS last night concerning fetal development. They had a segment that involved a situation that occurred in Canada almost 20 years ago.

    During one of the worst storms in the history of Ontario some areas suffered electrical failure for up to 3 weeks. No power, no heat, no communications, no deliveries and very little ability to travel or move about or get medical help in from outside, or get to the hospital. Most people were hardly prepared for this situation.

    One of the OB/GYN doctors decided that since she would be accountable for every delivery until age 18 she should be tracking the numbers on children she delivered after these events.

    What she discovered was astounding!

    The children born after this event had 30% more developmental issues than normal, they had impaired language skills, an extremely high rate of autism, extreme allergy problems, and exhibited behavior problems during school.

    The most amazing part of the study was that the problems manifest were in direct proportion to the length of time the pregnant mothers spent without power in the home.

    One might wonder how people fared during the millions of years humans existed before electricity was common, but that was not the issue. The stress of being unprepared for this event was the issue.

    These mothers were in extreme stress over how much food was available, how it would be prepared, how much firewood was available (No "normal" suburban home owner keeps a month of fire wood and food on hand!) and how much longer they would have to endure the situation since no communications were available.

    They were staring into a bleak and vast unknown with no answers available. This modified the hormones getting into their unborn babies' bloodstreams and modified their development and changed their entire lives.

    Winter is once again upon us. Snow is falling as I type and I have an 9 month pregnant young woman living next door. I could not help but think about her as I was watching the show.

    Of course they are unprepared! That is the normal state of affairs.

    What do you do when you can't leave the house for food?

    You order a pizza!
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    Yeah, I read that, too. Pretty interesting. So many things can affect your life and a ton of them are completely out of your control. That makes it even more important to work on the things you can control IMO.

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    This is an interesting subject......


    I'm thinking it had more to do more....result of a "event"....that to just losing power...Any event.
    This "power outage"/food/ getting around...without any preparation what was the event reported on in this case.

    As far comparing the younger suburban dwellers...to those past generations....that living without the grid was their normal...is a different normal.
    I'm sure that the people of days gone by.... had their own versions of serious disasters....

    WWI 1 WW 2, the depression....just a few examples

    Then again,....these days researchers..... spend some time, effort and reporting more effectilly than ever before...

    Seems to be showing up more when looking for these problem.
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    It was not the event itself that did the damage, but the stress on the pregnant mother.

    What is the physical result of entering a disaster completely unprepared, situationally or mentally?

    The event that was studied drew attention due to the laws imposed on doctors, so they tracked the results of what not being prepared for a disaster did to the unborn children of their patients.

    It was the stress of lack of preparation for the disaster that was the damaging factor not the disaster itself.

    Makes one wonder what is happening on the Island of Puerto Rico right now, or the effects on children born in refugee camps world wide.
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    I have to imagine that as the environment becomes more stressful fewer births occur. That has to be true for any animal...us included. Just a bit of Charles Darwin in action. The fact that those who are born have problems limits their ability to survive to adulthood and pass on their genes. Easier in these days I suppose but more of Mr. Darwin in action. Not really surprising if you think about it. A more difficult environment means less resources and more struggle for those trying to survive. Our ability to limit our own reproduction, both male and female, during times of stress is a pretty amazing self-survival technique. All vestiges left over from roaming the plains with those pesky saber tooth kittens and whatnot. Fascinating that we have advanced so little in both our physiology and our ability to plan for even simple events. Your question about Puerto Rico spans the globe. You wonder what weird psychosis also occurs in these situations.

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    This is the work of one doctor who delivered how many babies in how small a sample area?
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LowKey View Post
    This is the work of one doctor who delivered how many babies in how small a sample area?
    Well it's on the interweb....Gotta be true.
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LowKey View Post
    This is the work of one doctor who delivered how many babies in how small a sample area?
    This particular study was done in an obscure area called Southern Ontario in a remote backwater town called Ottawa.

    Continued studies into the results have resulted in this becoming general knowledge in the medical community with several papers being presented in the past few years as fetal hormone research continues.

    You can google some of the results of studies from more than one place and more than one doctor. Just query "results of stress on the unborn"

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/...icineandhealth

    There is now study after study on this cause/effect syndrome.

    It is much like the discovery that smoking and drinking affects the unborn. That was just speculation until a few years ago.

    Just as we now consider it irresponsible to smoke or consume alcohol during pregnancy might we also now consider not having a proper disaster kit and action plan irresponsible among the general public when a pregnant mother is present?
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I really do not doubt this. Provide enough food and animal populations skyrocket. Remove the food source and the birth rates plummet. The very same thing holds true for us. The fact that stress hormones such as glucocorticoids, catecholamines, growth hormone and prolactin have an effect on the unborn isn't much of a stretch. We know that things like Graves disease can be precipitated by long term stress so it makes sense that those same hormones acting on a fetus would have some pretty nasty impacts.

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    It wasn't just the snidely "backwater town" of Ottawa.
    It was a good swath of the Ontario/Quebec/New Brunswick area of Canada.
    Out of the millions affected, the Project: Ice Storm data encompasses anywhere from 30 to maybe 150 kids, depending on which study is being written about. There were several studies done. Many ongoing.

    Pretty much the overall finding seems to be that objective stress had more of an effect on the fetus than traumatic stress in a number of different ways, from delayed development to actual T-cell changes.

    Even if these families had food and heat, they were still in an area of high objective stress levels. All the what ifs and what nexts. Is that tree just outside the window going to fall on the house? Is the power coming back before we run out of wood? If the opportunity arises, do we go to a shelter? Moving to a shelter is also a stressful event.

    There is more to being prepared for the unexpected than having food, water and heat handy.
    It also means having the wherewithal and the confidence to know you can make it, that it's just another walk in the woods that maybe went more than just a little sideways.

    PS, Dr. Suzanne King is a professor if psychiatry at a University, not an OBGYN.

    An interesting side note in one of the articles,
    An important thing to consider is that the effects of these epigenetic changes aren't always necessarily negative, King says, explaining that the placenta can be thought of as a sensory organ, sending information from the mother to the fetus that will help preserve the fetus. For instance, she notes, during the Second World War, Dutch children whose mothers experienced famine during pregnancy were more likely to have diabetes, obesity and high blood-pressure as adults in peacetime.

    "If they had been born into a famine, they would have been great," King says. "But it's because the postnatal environment was different than the prenatal environment, they were mismatched."
    Last edited by LowKey; 12-25-2017 at 10:28 PM.
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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LowKey View Post
    This is the work of one doctor who delivered how many babies in how small a sample area?
    There are many, many studies that show the results of mothers being under stress. I'm a birth worker who reads research. This is nothing new.
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    I was really trying to make a case for common sense preps during periods of severe weather, especially when pregnant women were present.


    As 1timestar stated, this is pretty common knowledge among people working with neonatal services, not so much among some other groups.

    If I had realized I was presenting to a medical conference I would have presented more of the hundreds of studies available and done a proper research paper.
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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    Hahha. Kyrat, you crack me up.

    But yes, the every day Jane Doe pregnant woman...prepare your nest for the realities that can happen.
    Why do I live in Alaska? Because I can.

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