SUMMARY: This is a short review of how environmental factors during pregnancy could possibly affect the baby’s development after birth. Effects include being more prone to allergies, obesity, and autism. Many of the results turned out to be inconclusive. The authors give the following reasons: gut microbiota changes quickly during development, small sample sizes, non-homogeneous participants, and some experiments did not have a placebo control to help strengthen their findings.
LESSON SUMMARY: The most interesting part of this article is under the second section about air pollution. One study found that mice exposed to heavy metals had an increase in antibiotic resistant genes. This can be tied to the All About Efflux Pumps article. Students should explain why it makes sense that increased heavy metals would also increase antibiotic resistance (efflux pumps pump out toxic substances such as heavy metals and antibiotics!). Other topics that can be covered by this article include: T-cells, respiratory system, immune system, chemistry of heavy metals and how they affect cells, scientific method, autoimmune diseases, antibiotic use, epigenetics, and pollution (air, water).
Vallès, Y. & Francino, M. Curr Envir Health Rpt (2018) 5: 512. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40572-018-0215-y