Deal in the womb: Fetal opiates, parent-offspring conflict, and the future of midwifery

Péter Apari, L. Rózsa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper argues that parent-offspring conflict is mediated by placental β-endorphins in placental mammals, i.e., foetuses make their mothers endorphin-dependent then manipulate them to increase nutrient allocation to the placenta. This hypothesis predicts that: (1) anatomic position of endorphin production should mirror its presumed role in fetal-maternal conflict; (2) endorphin levels should co-vary positively with nutrient carrying capacity of maternal blood system; (3) postpartum psychological symptoms (postpartum blues, depression and psychosis) in humans are side-effects of this mechanism that can be interpreted as endorphin-deprivation symptoms; (4) shortly after parturition, placentophagia could play an adaptive role in decreasing the negative side-effects of fetal manipulation; (5) later, breast-feeding induced endorphin excretion of the maternal pituitary saves mother from further deprivation symptoms. Finally, whatever the molecular mechanism of fetal manipulation is, widespread and intense medical care (such as caesarean section and use of antidepressants) affects the present and future evolution of mother-foetus conflict in the human species (and also in domestic animals) to increase 'fetal aggressiveness' and thus technology-dependency of reproduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1189-1194
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Hypotheses
Volume67
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Fingerprint

Opiate Alkaloids
Endorphins
Midwifery
Mothers
Fetus
Postpartum Depression
Food
Domestic Animals
Conservation of Natural Resources
Breast Feeding
Cesarean Section
Psychotic Disorders
Postpartum Period
Placenta
Antidepressive Agents
Reproduction
Conflict (Psychology)
Mammals
Parturition
Psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Medicine(all)
  • Drug Discovery

Cite this

Deal in the womb : Fetal opiates, parent-offspring conflict, and the future of midwifery. / Apari, Péter; Rózsa, L.

In: Medical Hypotheses, Vol. 67, No. 5, 2006, p. 1189-1194.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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