Can Maternal Discrimination Influence Baby’s Brain Development?

The new study involved 38 women, whose babies underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate brain connectivity.The results, published in the journal

showed differences in the children whose parents reported experiencing discrimination while pregnant.

The amygdala is an area of the brain associated with emotional processing and it’s very vulnerable to prenatal stress, said the researchers. Prior research has found that early experiences of adversity can have measurable impacts on amygdala connectivity in infants, children, adolescents, and adults.


A growing body of evidence also suggests the amygdala is involved in ethnic and racial processing, such as differentiating faces of people from different races or ethnicities, for example. When the researchers assessed connectivity between the amygdala and another region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with higher-order functioning.

“Our finding was consistent with what you expect to see in the brains of those affected by early life adversity either pre- or postnatally,” said Dustin Scheinost, associate professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at Yale School of Medicine.Future research, he said, should focus on whether other populations are affected in similar ways and what underlies the effects.”We don’t fully know why this happens,” said Scheinost. “So we need to investigate the biological mechanisms that carry these experiences of adversity from parent to offspring.”

Source: IANS

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