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Epigenetic Maternal-Foetal Programming: Correlating Maternal Impression Discourses With Epigenetic Discourses To Address Mother-Blaming Attitudes

Text

From Hippocrates until the nineteenth century, pregnant women were accused of influentially imprinting upon their unborn children through their emotional states, diets, personal circumstances, and behaviors. This 'condition' was termed "maternal impressions". As a result, mothers were considered risky to their infants (e.g., Shildrick, 2000; Mazzoni, 2002; Hanson, 2004; Park, 2010). Consequently, every aspect of maternal life was prescribed and mothers were blamed if they miscarried or delivered a 'malformed' child.  Epigenetic "maternal-fetal programming" is the new scientific inquiry into how gestational environmental exposures are transmitted into negative epigenetic traits impressing upon the fetus, causing heritable disease. Increasingly responsibility is placed on mothers to manage and control their environment, including emotional states, socioeconomic status, toxins, and diet, despite such advice often being quixotic or entirely unachievable. Historically mothers have been the soft target for society's ills (e.g., Caplan & Hall-McCorquodale, 1985; Fahy, 1996; Jackson & Mannix, 2004; Liss, 2009), therefore utilizing historical medical treatise and anatomical art, I draw parallels between mother-blaming from antiquity with current epigenetic texts through sculpture. I believe an urgent need exists to revisit feminist theories relating to societal mother-blaming attitudes, in order to highlight and dispute this latest reiteration. From Hippocrates until the nineteenth century, pregnant women were accused of influentially imprinting upon their unborn children through their emotional states, diets, personal circumstances, and behaviors. This 'condition' was termed "maternal impressions". As a result, mothers were considered risky to their infants (e.g., Shildrick, 2000; Mazzoni, 2002; Hanson, 2004; Park, 2010). Consequently, every aspect of maternal life was prescribed and mothers were blamed if they miscarried or delivered a 'malformed' child.  Epigenetic "maternal-fetal programming" is the new scientific inquiry into how gestational environmental exposures are transmitted into negative epigenetic traits impressing upon the fetus, causing heritable disease. Increasingly responsibility is placed on mothers to manage and control their environment, including emotional states, socioeconomic status, toxins, and diet, despite such advice often being quixotic or entirely unachievable.
 Historically mothers have been the soft target for society's ills (e.g., Caplan & Hall-McCorquodale, 1985; Fahy, 1996; Jackson & Mannix, 2004; Liss, 2009), therefore utilizing historical medical treatise and anatomical art, I draw parallels between mother-blaming from antiquity with current epigenetic texts through sculpture. I believe an urgent need exists to revisit feminist theories relating to societal mother-blaming attitudes, in order to highlight and dispute this latest reiteration.

License

Creative Commons Licence

Creator(s)

Contributors

Created date

February 8, 2019

Critical Commentary

This is an abstract that was submitted to the 2018 4S Annual Conference held in Sydney, by Clare Nicholson of UNSW UNSW Art and Design. It was presented in the session titled " Political Transformations of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) and Epigenetics in the Global South 1."

The abstract was selected as it holds a key topic of interest to the contributor's research. Specifically with rearguard to the co-constructive characterization of social roles and epigenetic medical phenomenon. 

Source

This is an abstract that was submitted to the 2018 4S Annual Conference held in Sydney, by Clare Nicholson of UNSW UNSW Art and Design.

Language

English