Higher Maternal Cortisol Correlates with Later Affective Problems

Somber data from Buss et al supporting the Barker Hypothesis/ Epigenetic programming for neuropsychiatric disorders:

Stress-related variation in the intrauterine milieu may impact brain development and emergent function, with long-term implications in terms of susceptibility for affective disorders. Studies in animals suggest limbic regions in the developing brain are particularly sensitive to exposure to the stress hormone cortisol. However, the nature, magnitude, and time course of these effects have not yet been adequately characterized in humans. A prospective, longitudinal study was conducted in 65 normal, healthy mother–child dyads to examine the association of maternal cortisol in early, mid-, and late gestation with subsequent measures at approximately 7 y age of child amygdala and hippocampus volume and affective problems. After accounting for the effects of potential confounding pre- and postnatal factors, higher maternal cortisol levels in earlier but not later gestation was associated with a larger right amygdala volume in girls (a 1 SD increase in cortisol was associated with a 6.4% increase in right amygdala volume), but not in boys. Moreover, higher maternal cortisol levels in early gestation was associated with more affective problems in girls, and this association was mediated, in part, by amygdala volume. No association between maternal cortisol in pregnancy and child hippocampus volume was observed in either sex. The current findings represent, to the best of our knowledge, the first report linking maternal stress hormone levels in human pregnancy with subsequent child amygdala volume and affect. The results underscore the importance of the intrauterine environment and suggest the origins of neuropsychiatric disorders may have their foundations early in life.
(Maternal cortisol over the course of pregnancy and subsequent child amygdala and hippocampus volumes and affective problems)

What are the long term social consequences for epigenetic programming of neuropsychiatric disorders?

Which demographic does this impact the most? Lower socioeconomic classes? Does this contribute to exacerbating inequality?

Not too long ago I read an article that showed that lower socioeconomic class was correlated with increased stress levels and decreased cognitive capacity.



Evidence Review: Cost Effective Policies for Improving Health and Longevity in America: Education and Maternal-Fetal Nutrition 
Barker-Hypothesis Policies

Cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and other obesity related health complications are among the top killers of American adults today. As these illnesses have grown increasingly more prevalent over the years they have taken the lead as the greatest contributors to rising health care costs. The aim of this paper is to identify how these diseases develop and address ways for preventing the onset of  chronic illness in order to improve health and longevity as a means of potentially curbing the rising cost of U.S. health care. Citing strong evidence, I posit that the single-most significant factor for improving national health is the proper maternal nutrition during the critical intrauterine, neonatal, and postnatal periods of child development. Additionally, I hypothesize that while maternal education programs may result in positive changes to a mother’s diet during her pregnancy period, it is the cost, availability and ease of access to quality nutritional foods which are tied to a country’s cultural lifestyles, and individuals’ socioeconomic class that primarily influences the success of this education policy.

Continue reading “Evidence Review: Cost Effective Policies for Improving Health and Longevity in America: Education and Maternal-Fetal Nutrition 
Barker-Hypothesis Policies”

Personal Commitments

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” -Aristotle

I am making some commitments to myself. There is no use putting off for tomorrow what can be done today. Some changes need to occur in my life, in my actions. In no particular order, I’m going to expatiate on some things I’ve been meaning to do, and why I desire to do them. Then, I will prioritize and organize them for execution.

Write everyday.
I need to write every day, be it philosophy, various events or happens, quandaries, inspiration, or whatever. For me, writing is life. It is an on going autobiographical account of the maturation of your thoughts and progress as a person. It helps contextualize and visualize the free floating immaterial swirling about in my head. My mind is like an atmosphere swirling with cool and warm currents of moisture. Ideas coalesce into clouds. When certain clouds gain enough mass, and churn and swirl and boil enough, lightning strikes as inspiration. I need to capture these clouds if I want to recreate that inspiration, in myself or others.
Additionally, writing is a skill. And like any other skill, it is refined through ongoing temperamental and deliberate practice. That means I need to attempt at writing my best, every day. Focus on the organization of thoughts, the poetics and prose of presentation, the clarity, the rococo, the rhetoric.
In my opinion, any life worth living is worth remembering. No thought is too trivial, or too important. They are all brush strokes that make up the larger canvas of your character. The fear of a single brush stroke defining your work, your character, will only prevent you from making more brush strokes.
I want to emphasize the importance of writing, and writing a lot. Any genius or man of great success in his field has had one defining characteristic: They produced, a lot. Even when no one was looking they were producing volumes of output in thought and action. Look at any great writer, any inventor, any businessman, any athlete, any scientist, any musician, any philosopher. Whether it was writing 2,500 words a day, coming up with five new inventions a day, examining markets every day or engaging in outstanding interpersonal skills with everyone they meet, practicing hours a day long after everyone left the field, conducting and publishing enormous amounts of research, playing for audiences and songwriting every available opportunity, or reading and contemplating the nature of truth and life every waking moment- they produced.

Visualizing goals
Not only have I been meaning to write down my goals, I have been meaning to create an environment that supports and forces me to think about my goals as often as possible. This means writing down my goals, posting them in locations where I will be forced to look and think about them, and telling people that will hold me accountable. I need to control my environment so that my thoughts are constantly oriented to their achievement.
Goals are cognizable desires. They are not simple emotions, but specific longings for specific destinations in character. No meaningful, worthwhile goal is achieved without a change is character, and its only when your character changes that other rewards and success fall to you, be it of material or immaterial value. Goals allow us to draw a map, construct a blueprint, compose a melody where there was none before. They transport us in ways that nothing else can. Only through goals can a person grow in character and consciousness with deliberation.
Having goals will only get someone so far. Visualizing goals is important. It is through visualization that we are able make them apart of our lives. It is through this visualization, this meditation, that we harness the power to control our lives by controlling our thoughts. This means taking time out of your day, every day, multiple times a day, and contemplating the nature of your goals, seeing them in your head, examining their idiosyncrasies, their personalities, their nature. If your goal is distinct and real, it will contain a multitude challenges before it is overcome and achieved. You must be familiar with these challenges so you can takes steps to prepare, be it psychologically or emotionally or physically.

Health and Physical Fitness
It is not enough to be healthy when its convenient. Health consciousness must be an ever present lifestyle. This means the elimination of vices such as food or chemical substances. Physical activity is necessary for a positive well being, not only in the now, but for the future which I am continually living into. There is no shortcut to living a well balanced life full of vitality.
If we really take time to appreciate all the environmental factors that influence us, we can leverage and utilize that knowledge for our benefit in two specific ways. We can maximize and stabilize our well being by ingesting only the most nutritious foods, and we can cleanse our body of toxins and negative hormones through rigorous physical activity. This will provide me with more energy and elevate my mood so that I give my best when conquering goals.

Time Management
A person will never find more time in a day. They must make more time. But how does one ‘make’ more time? Proper time management. This involves taking time out of ones day, every day, and laying
out priorities for accomplishment. This means parsing out specific time for specific tasks. Schedule everything: sleep, reflection, working out, reading, socializing, studying, writing, napping, errands, free time. You name it. If its not on your schedule, do not do it. Put it on tomorrows schedule. Do not change your schedule until the next day.
Life is made of time. If it were to stop, life would cease. We are all products of time; merely the exposure to stimulus that occurs with time. When you control your time, you control your life. That is when you gain self-mastery. Being creatures of habit, we must learn to control our habits. This is done by controlling our time. Habits are repeated actions. The more a person performs a thought or action, the more he will continuing performing that thought or action. It is like a piece of paper creased and folded repeatedly. Over time the paper has a natural tendency to bend at that crease. Likewise it is with our malleable minds. “We are what we repeatedly do” says Aristotle, “Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”