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Possible Effects of Maternal Behaviour on Foetal Development

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Possible Effects of Maternal Behaviour on Foetal Development Abstract Nutrition is the major intrauterine environmental factor that alters expression of the fetal genome and may have lifelong consequences. Namely, alterations in fetal nutrition and endocrine status may result in developmental adaptations that permanently change the structure, physiology, and metabolism of the offspring, thereby predisposing individuals to metabolic, endocrine, and cardiovascular diseases in adult life. Animal studies show that both maternal under nutrition and over nutrition reduce placental-fetal blood flows and stunt fetal growth. Impaired placental syntheses of nitric oxide (a major vasodilator and angiogenesis factor) and polyamines (key regulators of DNA and protein synthesis) may provide a unified explanation for intrauterine growth retardation in response to the 2 extremes of nutritional problems with the same pregnancy outcome. There is growing evidence that maternal nutritional status can al…