Pregnancy sickness as adaptation: A deterrent to maternal ingestion of teratogens
Profet (Margie)
Source: Barkow, Cosmides & Tooby - The Adapted Mind, 1992, Chapter 8
Paper - Abstract

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Author's Abstract

  1. Expand and refine an earlier argument (Profet, 1988): the food aversions, nausea, and vomiting of pregnancy1 sickness evolved during the course of human evolution to protect the embryo2 against maternal ingestion of the wide array of teratogens (toxins that cause birth defects) and abortifacients3 (toxins that induce abortion4) abundant in natural foods;
  2. Argue that pregnancy5 sickness represents a lowering of the usual human threshold of tolerance to toxins in order to compensate for the extreme vulnerability of the embryo6 to toxins during organogenesis (the embryonic7 period of organ differentiation and maximum vulnerability to teratogens).

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