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Stressing baby out

 
Beware of stressful situations while pregnant. It could have serious consequences.
By Rachael Myers Lowe

Pic: iStockphoto.com

Article originally in Reuters
Stressful situations in early pregnancy can lead to the birth of babies who are underweight or born too early, new research from China shows. Timing of the stress, the researchers found, was the key.

"The findings are modest, but significant," the authors write in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The risks of premature births increased two-fold in women who were exposed to severe life events during their first and second trimesters. Premature birth, the authors note, is the single largest contributing factor in infant deaths in the developing world.

Researchers from Anhui Medical University, led by Dr. Peng Zhu, followed 1,800 pregnant women receiving prenatal treatment in 2008 at one hospital. The participants were surveyed on financial conditions, emotional support, traumatic events and their relationships with their spouses. Were jobs or fortunes lost, were family members cheated, did the family move, did a family member die or suffer an illness, or was there fighting or divorce?

There were 96 premature births and 55 low birth-weight babies.

Stressing throughout the trimesters...

The Zhu team found that premature birth was more than twice as likely if severely stressful events occurred during the first and second trimesters, but not the third. Low birthweight was nearly three times more likely if stress happened during the first trimester.

The Zhu team concluded that health planners seeking to reduce the incidence of pre-term and low-weight births must take maternal stress into account when designing intervention programs.

How did stress affect your baby while you were pregnant?
 
Read more on: stress  |  preterm birth  |  pregnant  |  research
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