Fall 2011: Prenatal Parenting
Author: Jean Handwerk
Publish date:
 
 

The physical and spiritual consequences of the health legacy that parents pass on to children are enormous—quite possibly eternal.

In Canada when a beluga whale carcass washes ashore, it has to be buried as toxic waste because it is so full of heavy metals from the ocean.1

Belugas have been found to have from 80 to 200 ppm of PCBs stored in their blubber. The upper limit for human consumption is 5 ppm. One female orca was found to have 1000 ppm of PCBs in her blubber. Infertility, abnormalities, and weakness are increasing in whales, dolphins, and porpoises as a result of chemical and heavy metal poisoning.2 Extinction looms.

First-born dolphin babies, called calves, often die, poisoned by their own mothers’ milk:

In the wild, the many toxins, heavy metals, and PCBs in the oceans are absorbed by cetaceans and stored in their blubber. When a mother gives birth for the first time, her body purges these toxins through her milk and she literally poisons her own calf...

“The Inuit women are now like cetaceans—when they nurse their young, they risk killing them with all the toxins in their milk. So you see, the way the oceans and the dolphins and the whales go will be the way we humans go. It’s just a matter of time.”3

That time is already here:

Belugas are indicator species of the health of our waters, and as such, their failing health foreshadows our own fate.4

A study released this summer [2005] by the Environmental Work Group (EWG) tested the umbilical cord blood of infants born in the U.S. and found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants. In total, tests identified 287 chemicals of which 180 cause cancer, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 are linked to birth defects or abnormal development.5

This testing is before the toxins in vaccines are added to the newborn’s health disadvantage, and before further toxins are fed to children via pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals in non-organic foods.

These findings refute the assertion by some that the placenta shields cord blood (and the fetus) from most chemicals and other toxins in the environment...

For those who need a little more convincing, consider this: a Washington State University study reported in the June 3rd issue of Science magazine indicates that exposure to environmental toxins impacts health far greater than anyone ever imagined. Researchers found that the effects are passed along to offspring for as many as four generations.6

In a similar vein, in the 1920s and 1930s Dr. Weston Price, a dentist, researched healthy primitive human groups living entirely on indigenous foods and experiencing almost no dental decay and great resistance to disease. When these groups adopted a modern processed food, sugar-saturated diet, the results were disastrous for both them and any offspring born to them.

Not only did dental cavities become rampant upon their consuming “refined and devitalized” foods, but, more alarmingly, the children born to these people suffered “progressive facial deformities.” Narrowed facial structures and dental arches resulted in crowded, misaligned teeth. Birth defects and increased susceptibility to infections and chronic diseases also multiplied for these hapless children.

Significantly, when some natives returned to their traditional diets, open cavities ceased progressing and children now conceived and born once again had perfect dental arches and no tooth decay.7

Both Parents Affect the Fetus

While most studies of this nature focus on the mother’s responsibility in passing on health or harm, Dr. Price’s research revealed significant paternal genetic effects on prenatal development.

Disfiguring and dysfunctional structural aberrations often occurred in offspring when either parent consumed a nutritionally-deficient diet.

Either parent may contribute directly to certain of the defects of the children, due to defects in the germ plasm [DNA].8

In one example, an Eskimo woman prepared native foods for herself throughout a lifetime including twenty-six pregnancies.

For her second husband, she prepared his preferred diet of refined foods. She was free of tooth decay her entire life; the second husband was full of dental caries and also had facial structure abnormalities. “Several of the children [born to them] had incomplete development of the face and of the dental arches.”9

The role of parental health and temperance in the genetic blueprint of the fetus and post-birth child development is not news. At the turn of the 20th century, Ellen G. White wrote this:

There is a lesson for parents in the instruction given to the wife of Manoah [Samson’s mother], and to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. The angel of the Lord brought the tidings that Manoah should become the father of a son who was to deliver Israel; and in reply to the anxious inquiry, “How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?” the angel gave special directions for the mother: “Neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe.”

The child will be affected, for good or evil, by the habits of the mother. She must herself be controlled by principle, and must practice temperance and self-denial, if she would seek the welfare of her child.

And fathers as well as mothers are included in this responsibility. Both parents transmit their own characteristics, mental and physical, their dispositions and appetites, to their children. As the result of parental intemperance, the children often lack physical strength and mental and moral power.

Liquor drinkers and tobacco lovers hand down their own insatiable craving, their inflamed blood and irritated nerves, as a legacy to their offspring. And as the children have less power to resist temptation than had the parents, each generation falls lower than the preceding.

The inquiry of every father and mother should be, “What shall we do unto the child that shall be born unto us?’Many are inclined to treat this subject lightly; but the fact that an angel of heaven was sent to those Hebrew parents, with instruction twice given in the most explicit and solemn manner, shows that God regards it as one of great importance (Te, 269, emphasis added).

Curses and Blessings

Many whom God would use as His instruments have been disqualified at their birth by the previous wrong habits of their parents. When the Lord would raise up Samson as a deliverer of His people, He enjoined upon the mother correct habits of life before the birth of her child...

In instructing this one mother, the Lord gave a lesson to all who should be mothers to the close of time. Had the wife of Manoah followed the prevailing customs, her system would have been weakened by violation of nature’s laws, and her child would have suffered with her the penalty of transgression (GH Feb., 1880; 2BC 1005).

Obedience to God’s health principles results in inestimable spiritual blessings.

He who will observe simplicity in all his habits, restricting the appetite and controlling the passions, may preserve his mental powers strong, active, and vigorous, quick to perceive everything which demands thought or action, keen to discriminate between the holy and the unholy, and ready to engage in every enterprise for the glory of God and the benefit of humanity (ST Sept. 29, 1881; 2BC 1006).

It cannot be denied, then, that a child’s usefulness in God’s service is greatly determined by the practices of both parents, both before and after birth.

Let old and young remember that for every violation of the laws of life, nature will utter her protest. The penalty will fall upon the mental as well as the physical powers. And it does not end with the guilty trifler. The effects of his misdemeanors are seen in his offspring, and thus hereditary evils are passed down, even to the third or fourth generation (ST, Dec. 6, 1910; Te, 56).

Our Baleful Inheritance

Our ancestors have bequeathed to us customs and appetites which are filling the world with disease. The sins of the parents, through perverted appetite, are with fearful power visited upon the children to the third and fourth generations. The bad eating of many generations, the gluttonous and self-indulgent habits of the people, are filling our poorhouses, our prisons, and our insane asylums. Intemperance...has resulted in great mental and physical degeneracy, and this degeneracy is constantly increasing (RH, July 29, 1884, emphasis added).

Even infants in the cradle suffer from afflictions caused by the sins of their parents (CH, 19).

Diseased children are born because of gratification of appetite by the parents (AH, 258).

How serious is this in God’s eyes?

When men take any course which needlessly expends their vitality or beclouds their intellect, they sin against God; they do not glorify Him in their body and spirit, which are his (CTBH, 8).

Emotional Legacies, Too

Behaviors related to emotions are also the inheritance of children:

Be what you wish your children to be. Parents have perpetuated by precept and example their own stamp of character to their posterity. The fitful, coarse, uncourteous tempers and words are impressed upon children, and children’s children, and thus the defects in the management of parents testify against them from generation to generation (CG, 278).

Even before the birth of the child, the preparation should begin that will enable it to fight successfully the battle against evil. If before the birth of her child she [the mother] is self-indulgent, if she is selfish, impatient, and exacting, these traits will be reflected in the disposition of the child. Thus many children have received as a birthright almost unconquerable tendencies to evil. But if the mother unswervingly adheres to right principles, if she is temperate and self-denying, if she is kind, gentle, and unselfish, she may give her child these same precious traits of character (AH, 256).

The basis of a right character in the future man is made firm by habits of strict temperance in the mother prior to the birth of her child… This lesson should not be regarded with indifference (AH, 258).

Again the father has influence, this time on the future moral character and physical health of the child. During this time, “the husband and father is under special responsibility to do all in his power to lighten the burden of the wife and mother” (AH, 257).

After birth, when nursing, a mother’s moods also affect the infant.

The character also of the child is more or less affected by the nature of the nourishment received from the mother. How important, then, that the mother, while nursing her infant, should preserve a happy state of mind, having the perfect control of her own spirit. By thus doing, the food of the child is not injured. …[If she is upset or irritable,] the nourishment the infant receives from its mother will be inflamed, often producing colic, spasms, and in some instances causing convulsions and fits (AH, 260).

What if Damage is Already Done?

For those of us faced with physical or spiritual struggles due to parental ignorance or intemperance, or perhaps due to increasing environmental toxins, there is no guarantee that the struggle to regain physical, mental, and moral health and temperance in all things will be easy or fully successful in our lifetimes.

Sometimes some aspects of the inherited physical condition are permanent, especially as relates to body structure or DNA.

Natural law—the law of heredity, in this case—means that offspring often begin their lives “under handicaps of the parents’ physical and moral sins.”

No one can escape completely the consequences of dissipation, disease, profligacy, evil doing, ignorance, and bad habits handed down by preceding generations (1 BC, 603).

God’s Provision and Our Response

God’s justice and mercy allow for “disadvantages of birth, inherited predispositions, and influences of previous environment upon the character.”

At the same time, our aim is to be victorious over every inherited and cultivated tendency to evil (1 BC, 603).

Despite the insult which man has offered him, God’s love is still extended to the race; and he permits light to shine, enabling man to see that in order to live a perfect life he must obey the natural laws which govern his being. How important, then, that man should walk in this light, exercising all his powers, both of body and mind, to the glory of God (CTBH, 8,emphasis added)!

When we choose to make God’s principles a priority in our lives, we have assurances of divine aid.

Although children and grandchildren of sinful men and women suffer inherited tendencies to disease and moral weakness, God offers “exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 4:1).

All things pale to insignificance next to that inexpressibly wonderful truth. Let men and women of childbearing and child-rearing years remember God’s promise in Deuteronomy 7:9 to “keep covenant and mercy... to a thousand generations” with those who obey not only His moral but His physical laws.

 


 

1. Brenda Peterson, Build Me An Ark (NY: W. W. Norton, 2001): 166-167, 276.

2. www.orccamm.org/toxicmeat article.htm; 1/17/06.

3. Brenda Peterson, Build Me An Ark (NY: W. W. Norton, 2001): 20-21. 4. Ibid: 276-277.

5. “Body Burden—The Pollution in Newborns.” ewg.org/reports/body burden2/execsumm. php (July 14, 2005).

6. James H. Martin, “New Orleans’ Toxic Soup is Served Up All Over America,” Total Health volume 27: 31.

7. A. Price Weston, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (La Mesa, CA: Price-Pottinger Nutrition Foundation, Inc., 2004): xv.

8. Ibid: 342-351.

9. Ibid., 342-348.

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