Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Importance of Prenatal Environment

Koreans have an expression for the prenatal care of an unborn child: the attention of a pregnant woman to her own mental health and education of the fetus.

Strange as it may seem, a well-known physicist with a doctorate from Columbia and now teaching at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, is one of the leaders in the study of the influence of the environment on the formation of the child in the womb.

Professor Kim Soo-yong was interviewed by the Catholic Times recently to uncover the reason for his interest in prenatal education. With his background  in science, it makes many shake their heads when they hear about a physicist becoming interested in the education of the fetus.

He has for years read many of the Korean classics in this field and wants to validate what they have uncovered with scientific knowledge. To the professor, the human brain is as  complicated as the universe which is his primary focus as a physicist. He began to take an interest in the study of prenatal education while in the States. He wondered how his brain was different from other brains. He couldn't give up the study of  physics but continued the interest in prenatal studies. There was, he admits, much frustration in the quest for knowledge on prenatal training.

Pittsburgh University some years ago made a study of prenatal care  that suggested that inadequate prenatal care significantly affects a person's intelligence. This was accepted with much interest throughout the world, but the professor says the Koreans knew this many centuries before. In other words, nurture is more important than nature. The Koreans often say that one year in the womb is more important than 10 years after birth.

The professor gives us the example of the Holy Family with Mary and Joseph doing all that was necessary in the prenatal education of Jesus. They were both obedient and prayerful, waiting patiently and courageous. The Holy Family is an example, he says, of putting into practice correct prenatal care.

It is not only for intelligence that prenatal care is necessary but to  prepare the child in the womb to receive all that God wants to give.The first thing the fetus should come in contact with is love. And during this time to have the fetus come in contact with the love of Jesus. This energy from love will make the brain supple, says the professor, and enable the child to overcome the many difficulties in life.

With these words, the professor recommends that pregnant mothers routinely attend Mass. He hopes  priests will be more understanding of the importance of the prenatal period. This interest in prenatal care and education is something that has had little foreign influence, he says, and is native to the Korean way of life.

He wants the Church to consider this a vital  part of its teaching and to have the laity put into practice this teaching by stressing the importance of holy family life and the influence this will have on the  prenatal education of their children.

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