The emotional behaviour of adults is triggered in the womb, according to new research published in the Nature Communications journal.
Humans could be at greater risk of developing anxiety or other stress management problems if they are affected in a certain way by the growth factor-2 hormone that has been found by scientists to be administered to prenatal babies via the placenta.
The growth of fetuses is a difficult subject for researchers to understand because of the ethical problems involved in conducting studies on pregnant women, but a new joint report from Cardiff and Cambridge University doctors could change this.
It was found that if the growth factor-2 hormone was damaged, children became more anxious later in life.
This discovery could have wide-ranging impacts on both psychiatry and natal care, as parents will be understandably worried they could have traits that will leave their baby with lifelong mental health issues.
Dr Trevor Humby, who was involved in the project, said: “We suspect that our research findings may indicate that the seeds of our behaviour and possibly vulnerability to brain and mental health disorders, are sown much earlier than previously thought.”