The developmental psychologist demonstrated that both mental diseases have similar physical abnormalities which are formed during the first month of pregnancy.
The existence of a relationship between unhealthy behaviour during pregnancy and the subsequent development of schizophrenia and autism in the child was already known. However, Ploeger's hypothesis that the early organogenesis stage is the most critical, is new. Ploeger bases her hypothesis on an extensive study of scientific literature in this area. She often had to make use of related studies; although a lot of research has been done into prenatal influences on the development of schizophrenia and autism, little is known about the influence that the period between 20 to 40 days after fertilisation has.
Ploeger advises women to stop risky behaviour such as smoking, medicine use and stressful activities before they even become pregnant. If you only start to live healthily once you know that you are pregnant, the basis for a disrupted development of your child could already have been laid.
Ploeger's research was partly financed by NWO is within the research programme Evolution and Behaviour.
Kim van den Wijngaard | alfa
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