How does epigenetics play a role in a developing infant?

The current science is called genetic control, which simply means control by genes. The new science, that I got involved with more than 40 years ago and is now becoming mainstream, is called epigenetic control. This little prefix epi turns the world upside down. Epi means above. So, epigenetic means control above the genes. We now know that we influence the activity of our genes by our actions, perceptions, beliefs and attitudes. In fact, epigenetic information can take a single gene blueprint and modify the readout of the gene to create more than 30,000 different proteins from the same blueprint. Basically, it says that the genes are plastic and variable and adjust to the environment.

For example, if a woman conceives a child but all of a sudden there’s violence in the environment, war breaks out and the world is not safe anymore, how’s the child going to respond? The same way the mother responds. Why is this important? When a mother is responding to a stressful situation, her fight or flight system is activated and her adrenal system becomes stimulated. This causes two fundamental things to happen. Number one, the blood vessels are squeezed in the gut, causing the blood to go to the arms and legs (because blood is energy), so that she can fight or run. The stress hormones also switch the blood vessels in the brain for this reason. In a stressful situation, you don’t depend on conscious reasoning and logic, which come from the forebrain. You depend on hindbrain reactivity and reflexes; that’s the fastest responder in a threatening situation. Well that’s cool for the mother, but, what about for the developing fetus? The stress hormones pass into the placenta and have the same effect, but with a different meaning when it affects the fetus. The fetus is in a very active growing state and it requires blood for nutrition and energy, so whichever organ tissues get more blood will develop faster.

The significance in all this is that the forebrain is consciousness and awareness; you can reduce the intelligence of a child by up to 50 percent by environmental stressors because of shunting the blood from the forebrain and developing a large hindbrain. Nature is creating the child to live in the same stressed environment that the parents perceive. The same fetus developing in a healthy, happy, harmonious environment creates a much healthier viscera, which enables growth and maintenance of the body for the rest of its life, as well as a much larger forebrain, which gives it more intelligence. So, the mother’s perception and attitude about the environment is translated into epigenetic control, which modifies the fetus to fit the world the mother perceives. Now, when I emphasize mother, of course, I have to emphasize father [as well]. Because if the father screws up, this also messes up the mother’s physiology. Both parents are actually genetic engineers.

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3 thoughts on “How does epigenetics play a role in a developing infant?

  1. Pingback: What you should know about your DNA: Gene expression — its effects on health, fertility and your child

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