Perinatal and Prenatal Environmental Influences on the Development of Children

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Most child development causation research has focused on genetic inheritance, and environmental contexts such as social cultural and community influences as dominant factors in physical and cognitive development. I believe that prenatal environmental influences have been overlooked in much research to date. By reviewing the journal “Perinatal exposure in later psychological development and behavioral disabilities” I will emphasis the importance of healthy living to later cognitive development in infancy and early childhood.

During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the devastating thalidomide tragedy brought awareness to the public the causation between birth defects and use of chemical’s during pregnancy. An estimated 10,000 birth defects and thousands of fetal deaths worldwide as a result from failed animal testing. Women were prescribed the sedative thalidomide to reduce morning sickness. As these children grew older, many scored below average in intelligence by possible direct damage to the central nervous system (Berk, L. 2008). Damage to the central nervous system could have correlated with a negative bi-directional influence between child and parent. Subsequently, this event influenced researchers to develop a new branch of study into the causation of birth defects called Teratology.

At the time researchers speculated that during the prenatal period the child is at risk of environmental events that can cause adverse reactions from consumption of toxins to contracting viral diseases. Researchers believed that the placenta filtered toxic substances from the mother, protecting the fetus from harmful agents

(Dombrowski, Martin 2007). Through much research it is now understood that babies can be profoundly damag...

... middle of paper ...

...affected by tetragons prenatally. Cognitive delays are

overlooked and often attributed to environmental or genetic influences outside the womb.

I believe that pregnant women have most control over these contributing factors and that

to a great extent of the physical and mental deformities could be prevented by educating

pregnant women on the harmful affects of chemicals, radiation and inadequate nutrition

to the unborn child.


Berk, L.E. (2008). Infants and Children. Pearson Education Inc

Dombrowski, S.C & Martin, R.P. (2007). Journal of Perinatal Exposure in

Later Psychological and Behavioral Disabilities. American Psychological Association.

Greenberg, J.S., Bruess, C.E. & Conklin, S.C., (2007). Exploring the dimensions

of human sexuality. Sudbury, Massachusetts: Jones and Barlett Publishers.

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