Parents provide the immediate physical environment which will determine whether the baby’s equipment for living will be poor, average, or optimal. As the foundations for physical life are laid, each new part is built upon the previous one so that both limitations and advantages are preserved. Although some degree of “plasticity” is possible during later development, the original parts remain in place. Parents who wait to think about this until after their child is born will be starting too late–nine months after all the basic equipment has been constructed. Environmental threats have become more challenging with the huge new production of industrial and agricultural chemicals, stimulants and sedatives such as nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol, “street” drugs like opiates and amphetamines, the plethora of new drugs prescribed by physicians, new forms of electromagnetic radiation including the bombardment of ultrasound waves being overused to entertain parents during obstetrical office visits. Because of so much environmental disruption, the safety and sanctity of the womb is threatened as never before.
It is common knowledge about the importance of a woman’s diet during pregnancy, in particular folic acid (one of the B vitamins) and the profound malformations of anencephaly and spina bifida, defects which occur when the neural tube fails to close 18 to 26 days after conception. If construction deficits occur at the top end of the tube, the baby’s brain will likely be affected; if at the lower end, the spinal column will likely be affected. Large scale disruptions in the food supply, as in a famine, can create widespread problems of reproduction. Long-term studies of children born to mothers who were starved in early pregnancy show damage to the mechanisms of appetite control and growth regulation, resulting in obesity in the offspring. Famines produce increased rates of diabetes and schizophrenia, partly through zinc deficiency which contributes to both of these diseases. Sub-optimal nutrition, one of the factors behind the plague of low-weight babies, means shortages of essential supplies during brain construction resulting in a sub-optimal brain. In the modern urban environment, estrogenic compounds flow freely and have an impact on human sexual development. Hormonal deficiencies, excesses, and imbalances effect both the genes and the environment that ultimately determine sexual identity and orientation–all this before the baby is born.