New research published in the journal Nature is showing that the placenta produces seratonin prenatally. This is a new exciting finding, since it was always believed that the baby got the seratonin from the mother. When they discovered that seratonin can not cross the placenta, they started looking for where the seratonin was coming from, and were surprised to see that it was being produced in the placenta itself.
This means that the placenta plays a key role in the development of the brain during pregnancy. It also shows that the placenta does a lot more than simply transport nutrients from a mother to her unborn baby.
“The placenta is not just a passive bag of cells sitting there just allowing things to flow freely between the mom and the fetus,” says Pat Levitt, director of the Zilhka Neurogenetic Institute at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.
Other research suggests that serotonin probably isn’t the only important brain-signaling chemical being made by the placenta, Levitt says. He says there are hints that it can make dopamine, which is also involved in wiring up the brain.
Placentas are so much more than just filters for nutrients, feeding the baby! It’s obvious we are only at the beginning of new insight into the wonders of placenta. It will only be a matter of time before people start accepting that the placenta can be beneficial for mothers postpartum as well.
Thanks to Angela Bailey for passing on the link!