Sunday, June 01, 2008

Manage Stress In Pregnancy For Your Baby's Mind And Body Health.

If you are pregnant, think twice before taking on an extra project at work. Severe stress, even in the short term, may almost double the risk of having a stillbirth - although stillbirths are rare.

Nora Schultz-The New Scientist

A study conducted in Denmark on pregnant women by Kristen Wisborg and colleagues followed a group of pregnant women in their pregnancy and found that the women who were stressed had more stillbirths than those with less stress.

The results of this study are even more significant since women with problems like high blood pressure, premature labor and other significant health problems were excluded from the study.

Studies in monkeys show that stress hormones such as adrenalin reduce the flow of blood supply to the placenta. Although the effect is small, if the baby has any other problems, stress can cause more damage to the placenta and cause fetal death.

Other studies show that stress in pregnant rats in the last 3 months of their pregnancy impaired the growth of their offspring's brain. The babies developed fewer nerve cells in the areas of the brain that are involved with emotions (the cingular cortex and the orbito frontal cortex and other parts of the brain.

The nerves in the babies' brain showed abnormal branching pattern with different effects on boys than girls. Boys were more likely to develop attention deficit disorder while the girls tended to develop depression which is known to be due to shrinkage of the hippocampus.

“Early experiences, especially emotional experiences, shape brain circuits for later life. The susceptibility to stress continues after birth, with different types of stress and trauma leading to different brain effects, she adds." Braun.

The take home message of these studies is that we are connected to our outer and inner worlds. Babies, whether they are in their mothers' womb or outside, are influenced by their surroundings. If the environment is hostile, stress hormones are produced that have detrimental effects on them. Thus we owe it to our children that we provide them with a peaceful stress free environment for their proper growth while they are inside the womb and after birth..


  1. Stress in pregnancy hits offspring's emotional brain. The New Scientist 12:02. 12th July 2006
  2. Stress increases risks of still births. The New Scientist. 30th May, 2008

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