Growing babies: War in the womb. 11 March 2010, BBC4

Antrobus, Laverne (2010) Growing babies: War in the womb. 11 March 2010, BBC4. [Film/Video]

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Laverne Antrobus investigates the theory of foetal-maternal conflict, an idea championed by evolutionary biologist David Haig and controversially believed by some to be blamed for a wide range of behavioural and psychological disorders such as Tourettes, depression and autism. She also meets a scientist who believes he has found the smoking gun of pre-eclampsia - a protein produced by foetal tissue that is capable of remodelling the maternal bloodstream to suit the foetus’s goals. On a biological level, pregnancy is dogged by conflict. It begins with the battle between 500 million sperm to reach the single egg, followed by the aggressive tactics employed by the cells of the placenta as they invade the wall of the uterus, to the escalation of hormones in later pregnancy that have been likened by some to a kind of hormonal cold war between mother and baby. Antrobus discovers how the symptoms of pre-eclampsia in the mother are driven by the foetus lashing out for survival when the placenta begins to fail. She meets Dr Ananth Kuramanchi who has been working on this topic to find out more. The programme also explores how conflict in the womb permeates the foetal genome as she investigates one of the most recent discoveries in genetics, genomic imprinting. She discovers how the genes of mother and father employ strategies of cunning and subterfuge to suit their own selfish ends.

Item Type: Film/Video
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Babies
Families > Childbirth
Families > Mother Child Relations
Media Appearances > Film/Video
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services

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