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The Unborn Child: Beginning a Whole Life and Overcoming Problems of Early Origin

by by Roy Ridgway and Simon H. House MA

listed in women's health

[Image: The Unborn Child: Beginning a Whole Life and Overcoming Problems of Early Origin]

Review compiled by Sandra Goodman PhD.

[This updated and extended edition of the book originally published in 1987 under the title The Unborn Child: How to Recognize and Overcome Prenatal Trauma, is a rare coming together of a vastness of factors concerning human conception, birth and life. The content ranges from rare esoteric and little known insights - dream-images, primal therapy, birth memories with LSD and womb-life of bliss and distress - the importance of nutrition and brain nutrition, soil regeneration and psychological healing.]

The obesity epidemic hit the headlines thanks to Jamie Oliver's campaign for schoolchildren's food. Less visible are the levels of personal stress and mental disorders that have begun to hit the headlines. 'We are deeply concerned at the escalating incidence of childhood depression and children's behavioural and developmental conditions', writes a group of highly qualified researchers and authors.

The renowned brain-scientist Baroness Greenfield, child-care expert Dr Penelope Leach, and Sir Richard Bowlby, son of the noted child psychotherapist John Bowlby, are included. Struck by the seriousness are children's author Philip Pullman and children's laureate Jacqueline Wilson. This team is alarmed how real food and real play have given way to junk food and a curriculum that is test-driven: that interaction with adults and time to be children  has given way to sedentary screen-based entertainment, and exposure to "material that would have been considered unsuitable even in the very recent past". A preoccupation with protection of children from physical harm, has blinded people to their emotional and social needs - result: depression, substance abuse, violence and self-harm, summarized by Anne Karpf in The Guardian, as "what happens in a society when people feel they don't matter". This correspondence apparently prompted an avalanche of emails swamping TV shows and radio stations.

Yet we must explore earlier than childhood to discover the most deep-rooted causes. We must attend to a child's earliest development. The huge power of these early stages has been recognized for decades. From the mid-1990s, scientists have identified the powerful effects of setting of gene switches by the mother's, and then the child's, environment. At these early stages emotional and impressions are having maximum effect on controls of appetite, metabolism of fat and blood-sugar, mental responsiveness, mood and behaviour, are being set for life. Current epidemics are evidence of these effects, the most visible being obesity. Diabetes and cardiovascular problems are as serious. Obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular problems, are covered by the term 'metabolic syndrome'. Associated with them, mental ill health is becoming the most serious of all, costing Europe alone 386 billion Euros a year, let alone the knock-on effects of inadequate learning, irresponsible and violent behaviour.

Strangely, it surprises many people that even from before conception, the health of the father, as well as the mother, has powerful effects on their child-to-be for life. Both parents can be affected by inadequate nutrition - most commonly in industrial countries just the wrong choices such as junk foods, lack of fruit, vegetable and fish. Sometimes problems are unsuspected disease. Only recently have biochemical and epigenetic studies shown that maternal effects, of stress particularly, from the earliest and throughout pregnancy powerfully affect the child. Each of the authors recognized landmark experiences that had evoked their own awareness of prenatal influences. Tens of thousands, they then discovered, had also recognized profound 'primal' memories, many during psychotherapy. The Unborn Child brings together up-to-date findings to coordinate understanding of both emotional and nutritional effects, so that we know the ways to bring children into the world in greater health and happiness. Needs vary across the spectrum of social advantage or disadvantage, but all stand to benefit, some very greatly.
Two things are now of paramount importance for our attention - the structure and function of the human brain, and the variety and splendour of our ecology. We are currently courting the demise of both. Most recently the hazards discussed above arrived with our industrial and technological society. But previously, only in the last few hundred generations, a serious human loss has been our natural waterside environment, providing our foods from the water and the wild, which finally enabled us to evolve to our present zenith. This is a basic loss to our health, particularly to our brain, unless we can learn to compensate for it. Accordingly we have to consider the human brain and the ecology together. Only the human brain can find ways to ameliorate the ecological changes we are causing, changes that are in turn damaging to the human brain itself.

The human brain and the biosphere powerfully affect each other. The delicate balance emerging through evolution in the billions of years since the earth's formation has, suddenly in the last 10,000 years - or say 400 generations, been seriously upset. The rapid increase in size and power of the human brain and human population, has impacted dangerously on all our planetary life. First the agricultural revolution, aggravated some 10,000 years later by the industrial revolution, have impacted upon the biosphere in ways we hear about daily, which changes the human environment and including diet drastically, entailing huge new disease patterns. A balanced scientific view of the prime factors affecting our planetary life are essential to a hope of warding off the worst aspects of incipient demise. This is the only hope of improvements that may be possible.

The public is increasingly aware of pollution, global warming and radiation. People are less aware of the depletion of nutrients in soils, crops and livestock, and threats to aquatic life - depletion not only of fish-stocks but of blue-green algae and other photosynthetic micro-life. These micro-organisms are not only the source of essential brain-foods we harvest in our fish-catches; they are responsible for capturing more of the excessive carbon-dioxide than all the world's rainforests.

If anyone doubts that the most vulnerable phase in the lifecycle is the reproductive phase, it is not the traditional farmer. For generations he knew to keep his best fields and feed for the run-up to the mating season. More recently this has scientifically been shown to be the most significant period for human health and nutrition. The Unborn Child shows the lifelong effects on the person of both nutritional factors from before conception, and emotional factors in pregnancy. These factors continue until late adolescence, and can affect subsequent generations. The book shows effects on human health of lifestyle and ecological change, such as choice of foods and use of narcotics; depletion of nutrients in soil, crops and livestock; the reduction of physical activity.

To many the power of the evidence will be surprising. Fifty years ago the idea of recalling birth memories was a fantasy for all but a few. For many it is now commonplace. It provides a chance for healing and for bringing children into the world healthier and happier. Eighty years ago only rare pioneers were investigating nutrition scientifically. Today there is a huge wealth of research. Nutritional evidence is statistical and molecular, and being supported by the newest evidence of epigenetics and brain-scans. Evidence on emotional nurture is often anecdotal, yet complemented by experiences of the authors' own, and of a vast number of people's, building into a very solid body. These findings in both nutritional and emotional development are strengthened by the most recent knowledge through brain-scanning. The Unborn Child draws out the principles on which our species can continue to evolve and reproduce healthily.

Calls for important changes often cause concern of commercial companies' for their profits. They go into denial and fight against change or legislation, rather than renew their inventiveness. If only they would realize that their decisions can bring disaster, not just on 'the market out there' but inevitably on their own children and grandchildren. What could bring greater responsibility within corporations? HG Wells seemed to suggest a role for universities in students' development of an overall view, a coherent sense of purpose. In 1939 he complained that universities 'had never made the slightest attempt to give any coherent picture of the universe to the new generation that came to it for instructions'. Seven decades later have they advanced? Education of all in the biosphere/human-brain relationship and its affect on new generations, could benefit the attitudes of people destined for corporate power. This could be the only way to oppose policies, merely profit-based, which can be so blind to public and planetary good. The Unborn Child is one book that could contribute to the setting of priorities.

"This book by Roy Ridgway and Simon House is truly a key text in the field of prenatal psychology, with its history and dramatic progress over the past few years being comprehensively presented. The unborn child we all once were is part of our biography. The foundations for our later life - and hence for our health or susceptibility to illness - are laid during the prenatal period.

"The way in which we deal with children at the beginning of their life and ensure their nutritional needs are met, is of fundamental significance for society and health policy. The fields of social sciences, politics, medicine and psychotherapy, urgently need the information that is presented so comprehensively and knowledgeably in this book. It makes a stimulating, exciting and moving read for the general public and is also a manual for experts from the field."
Ludwig Janus MD, President 1996-2006,
International Society of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology and Medicine.

"In this single book Simon House has brought together in a readable manner the recent findings of nutrition and psychology, biochemistry and emotion.... 'The window of opportunity' that seals the intelligence, behaviour, and health of those about to be born is lost for many of the 55,000 babies born at low birthweights in the United Kingdom.

"This book presents the case for a paradigm shift towards the nutrition and emotional health of the mother and her unborn child. In my opinion there can be no more effective and economical way to benefit people's health, happiness, and peacefulness.... Fully referenced, this an authoritative book in the quest for global health and peace."
Michael A Crawford, PhD, CBiol, FIBiol, FRCPath
Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition
London Metropolitan University

Further Information

The Unborn Child is fully referenced [about 500 references] to the published literature, indexed,  with forewords by Barbara Findeisen and Prof Michael Crawford and is available from Amazon.

Sandra Goodman PhD
Published by Karnac (Books) Ltd

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