As the pregnancy continues, the foetus escalates its hormone production, sending signals designed to increase the mother’s blood sugar and blood pressure and thus its own resource supply. In particular, the foetus increases its production of a hormone that prompts the mother’s brain to release cortisol, the primary stress hormone. Cortisol suppresses her immune system, stopping it from attacking the foetus. More importantly, it increases her blood pressure, so that more blood pumps past the placenta and consequently more nutrients are available to the foetus.
The mother … pre-emptively reduces her blood sugar levels. She also releases a protein that binds to the foetal hormone, rendering it ineffective. So then the foetus further increases its production. By eight months, the foetus spends an estimated 25 per cent of its daily protein intake on manufacturing these hormonal messages to its mother. And how does the mother reply? She increases her own hormonal production, countering the embryo’s hormones with her own that decrease her blood pressure and sugar. Through all this manipulation and mutual reprisal, most of the time the foetus ultimately gets about the right amount of blood, and about the right amount of sugar, allowing it to grow fat and healthy in time for birth.
Pre-eclampsia may represent a malfunction of these balancing factors — a malfunction that injures both fetus and mother (many wondered about this in the early 90s).
Eco-econ principles suggest we look for this kind of evolved dynamic tension in our economic and political systems. We might look at something like this…
a three way struggle between powerful economic (voters are also customers) and political forces.
By analogy our current situation of secular stagnation and extreme wealth concentration is the equivalent of pre-eclampsia — a dynamic control system disorder that ultimately injures even the dominant powers. Corporations and powerful individuals have accumulated too much wealth and power, resulting in dysfunctional patent laws, increasingly oppressive non-compete contracts, and a corrupt political system.
We can either rebalance our control systems, or we can develop eclampsia.