Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

The Long Term Consequences of How We Are Born

Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

The Long Term Consequences of How We Are Born

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT: This article is an updated review of the literature on the long term consequences of birth. Current literature reviewed includes the topics of autism, juvenile criminality, drug addiction, anorexia nervosa, asthma, exposure of antibiotics during pregnancy, the behavioural effects of hormones, and caesarean sections and is offered from a primal health perspective. The article closes with recommendations the profound changes that need to be made if this vision of childbirth is to be brought to a broader audience.

KEY WORDS: Birth, perinatal, asthma, autism, anorexia nervosa, drug addiction, criminality, suicide, oxytocin, ethnology.


Seven years and twenty-eight newsletters have passed since I first wrote an essay with this title. I now find it necessary to re-examine available data regarding the long-term consequences of how we are born. The recent publication of a great number of relevant studies is not the only reason to re-introduce this topic. The main reason is that in changing scientific, technical, and cultural contexts, it is becoming easier to understand the many implications of an emerging field of research.

Since the last decades of the twentieth century, midwifery and obstetrics practice have been objectively evaluated according to well-established criteria. The method of evaluation of the newborn infant proposed by Virginia Apgar (Apgar, 1953) became widely used in the 1970s. At the same time, precise definitions of perinatal mortality and perinatal morbidity rates appeared in the mainstream medical literature. Then the concepts of maternal morbidity and mortality were clarified and routinely included among what we might call the twentieth century evaluation criteria. Cost effectiveness occasionally has been taken into account.

Today, the development of primal health research encourages us to transcend these conventional criteria. The need for new criteria is even better understood if we also refer to two other contemporary phenomena that are developing side by side. These are the 'scientification of love' and the increased safety of caesareans.


For those who are not yet familiar with Primal Health Research, it is a developing branch of epidemiology that explores correlations between what happened during the " primal period" and what may happen later in life in terms of health, behaviour, and personality traits. (The primal period comprises fetal life, the period surrounding birth, and the year following birth [Odent, 1986]). It is difficult to find such studies because they do not fit into current classifications. This is the main reason for the primal health research database (, which compiles articles published in authoritative medical or scientific journals.

How to Use the Database

An overview of this database reveals that, in all fields of medicine and health sciences, there have been studies detecting correlations between health in adulthood, adolescence or childhood, and events during gestation. It is even possible to conclude, through this subgroup of studies, that our health is to a great extent shaped in the womb. ( Many studies have detected risk factors in the perinatal period for a great number of pathological conditions. To link relevant data, the database can be explored prospectively (for example via keywords such as 'birth complications', 'birth optimality', 'caesarean', 'labour induction', 'breech presentation', 'cephalhaematoma', 'forceps', 'ventouse', 'hypoxia', 'neonatal pulmonary hypertension', etc.), or retrospectively (for example via key words such as 'asthma', 'juvenile criminality', 'suicide', 'drug addiction', 'anorexia nervosa', 'autism', etc.).

Impaired Capacity to Love Others and to Love Oneself

It is noticeable when researchers explore behaviour, a personality trait, or a disease that can be interpreted as an 'impaired capacity to love', they always detect risks factors in the perinatal period. …

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