Researchers are working overtime to learn what causes COPD. The Fetal Origins Hypothesis suggests it all begins in the uterus as the fetus adjusts to its environment. Such adjustments may predispose the fetus to chronic diseases like asthma and COPD later in life.
During the 1950s and 1960s, physicians thought the placenta was a natural barrier that protected unborn babies from the mother’s environment; that it protected the fetus from anything bad ingested or inhaled; that it only allowed good substances, such as essential nutrients, to get to the fetus.
It was based on this old theory that caused physicians, or at least many of them, to remain indifferent to a mother’s nutritional status. If anything, it was prefered they didn’t gain too much weight. Physicians also remained unconcerned about mothers having a few drinks or inhaling cigarette smoke. In fact, during the 1960s, about half of expectant mothers reported smoking cigarettes.
However, by the 1990s an abounding amount of evidence started to show that this theory was probably poppycock, that the placenta was not a natural barrier, and that anything the mother inhaled or ingested could have a major impact on the growth and development of the fetus,