Problematic research: Feigning naivety of the impact of prenatal, infancy and early childhood experiences

What I found curious in this 2012 UK review of 82 studies was the reviewer’s reluctance to highly regard a human’s life before birth, during infancy, and in early childhood.

There was no lack in 2012 of animal studies to draw from to inferentially hypothesize how a human fetal environment causes the fetus to adapt with enduring epigenetic changes.

To take just one study that I won’t curate on this blog because it’s too old:

Weinstock M (2008) The long-term behavioural consequences of prenatal stress. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 32:1073–1086, “Stress, [to the pregnant mother] in rodents as well as nonhuman primates, produces behavioral abnormalities [in the pup], such as

  • an elevated and prolonged stress response,
  • impaired learning and memory,
  • deficits in attention,
  • altered exploratory behavior,
  • altered social and play behavior, and
  • an increased preference for alcohol.”

Yet the reviewer posed the question:

“There is a need to determine just what epigenetic changes do and do not account for. Put succinctly, do they explain individual differences in response to adversity and do they account for variations in health and behavior outcomes?”

I suspect that the cause of this feigned naivety was the political incorrectness of adequately placing importance in the human fetus’ experience of the development environment provided by their mother.

The PC view would have us pretend that there aren’t lasting adverse effects from human prenatal, infancy, and early childhood experiences.

The follow-on pretense to this PC view would be that later-life consequences aren’t effects, but are instead, mysteries due to “individual differences.” “Achievements and challenges in the biology of environmental effects”

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