The first 1,000 days after conception could have impacts that can last a lifetime, according to scientists at Lawson Health Research Institute.
This 3D MRI image of third trimester fetus in the womb is part of an innovative study that uses advanced imaging to look at early markers in a baby's health. Researcher Stephanie Giza explains that by imaging the fetus with MRI, they are able to measure how big the baby is, measure how much fat it has and they can also measure other internal organs the baby has. They can look at how the placenta is functioning as well.
According to CTV News London, after studying the impacts of the first thousand days after conception, Stephanie Giza and a team of scientists at Lawson have discovered that pregnancy stressors can have life-long impacts by using this form of imaging.
Scientist Dr. Charles MacKenzie said what they looked for was things like environmental influences on the mother, what she eats, and see how that effects the growth of the fetus. In addition, the team studied the placenta in the womb, which can also impact health. Dr. MacKenzie added that since the placenta is the organ that lets nutrients come to the fetus, that gets rid of the waste out of the fetus, it definitely is a vital organ in life. The placenta can also be affected by conditions like preeclampsia which can cause chronic inflammation for the mother and is a condition that occurs only during pregnancy.
Giza is hoping that by using this type of imaging, preventative steps can be taken by doctors that would make a positive impact.
“We’re hoping we can help inform families on the healthiest pregnancy they can have to provide their child with the best start in life as well as inform doctors more about the interventions they are using and perhaps improvements on those interventions."
The next steps in this study will be to further investigate important specific health conditions in the mother like diabetes, for example, to work on preventative health measures for both mother and baby. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. Between 3 – 20% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, depending on their risk factors.