|MadSci Network: Genetics|
This is a fascinating question with a simple answer of no. The very definition of hereditary is that it is inherited from the parents. This inheritance is of genetic material (genotype) that then contributes to the physical characteristics (phenotype) of the newly developing human. I think your question without the word “hereditary” is much more interesting. Can the thoughts and experiences of a pregnant woman mark or alter an unborn child? To which the answer is complex. Transference of thought is a very complex area indeed and from a scientific point of view we don’t really understand how we generate “thoughts” at all, let alone if they could be transmitted to an unborn child. So there is no evidence to suggest such a thing but neither is there any evidence NOT to suggest such a thing. Experiences, on the other hand could be interpreted in a different way, some, can definitely affect an unborn child where others may not at all. Most evidence comes from anything that a pregnant woman may take into her body. A lot of research has been done on smoking and alcohol effects on the growth of an unborn child. Certain physical defects, of a baby, can be caused by a pregnant woman taking drugs and other dietary supplements. Some research has been done on playing music to pregnant women or talking to the baby through the mother’s body, but the results are still very uncertain whether experiences of the mother can affect the baby. There is certainly no reason (especially later on in pregnancy) that the unborn child could begin to “learn” from its experiences just as it does after it is born. One point you might like to consider is that an unborn child is human individual that is simply using the mother as a safe place to develop it is in no way “part” of the pregnant woman. As soon as the unborn has developed sufficiently I could be able to experience and think for itself!!
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