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Unborn babies who are exposed to light in the womb could have better brain development

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Unborn babies who are exposed to light in the womb could have better brain development.

A lack of light exposure before birth has been linked to an increased risk of autism and, later in life, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and bipolar disorder—and so pregnant women who use light therapy could be helping their unborn child have a healthier life.

Light can pass through skin, soft tissue and even the fetus’s skull to activate photorecpetors known as Opsin 3, which are found in the central and peripheral nervous systems.  The receptors play an important role in the formation of neurons, neural pathways and parts of the brain and spinal cord.

They detect light in the blue range at a wavelength of around 480 nanometres, say researchers at Umea University in Sweden.

“Although more research is required before we can issue recommendations about specific light therapies for pregnant women, we are clearly on an exciting track that may eventually prove highly significant,” said Lena Gunhaga, one of the researchers.

(Source: Eneuro, 2021; 8: ENEURO.0141-21.2021)

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