Stress Harms your unborn baby

Discussion in 'Pregnancy - Second Trimester' started by toseland13, Aug 21, 2009.

  1. toseland13

    toseland13 Well-Known Member

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    this is long but thought some of you may be interested in reading it.

    i will be reading this to my OH lol and hope he pays attention! :winkwink:

    Stress experienced by a woman during pregnancy may affect her unborn baby as early as 17 weeks after conception, with potentially harmful effects on brain and development, according to new research. The study is the first to show that unborn babies are exposed to their mother's stress hormones at such an early stage in pregnancy.

    The findings, published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology, come after separate research on animals showed that high levels of stress in a mother during pregnancy could affect brain function and behaviour in her offspring, and other evidence suggesting that maternal stress in humans can affect the developing child, including lowering its IQ.

    However, the way this happens and the implications for the unborn child, both before and after birth, are still not fully understood and further research is needed, the latest study's authors said.

    They said they did not wish to "unduly worry pregnant women", but highlighted the need to lead a "healthy, balanced lifestyle" to avoid general stress.

    The baby charity Tommy's called on family, friends and employers of pregnant women to provide support and reassurance to help them reduce stress.

    The findings, the latest to focus on the impact of the environment in the womb on later development, come days after the government changed its advice to pregnant women and those trying to conceive, warning them to abstain from drinking alcohol. Previous guidelines had said they could drink up to two small glasses of wine a week.

    The change in advice, which government health advisers said was made to avoid confusion, rather than in response to new medical evidence, prompted claims from some critics that pregnant women are increasingly becoming targets in an obsessively anti-risk culture.

    Researchers in the latest study, led by Professor Vivette Glover at Imperial College London and the consultant obstetrician Pampa Sarkar, from Wexham Park hospital, Berkshire, measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol in 267 pregnant women. Cortisol, which is pumped into the blood when we become anxious, is good in the short term, as it helps the body to deal with a stressful situation, but long-term stress can cause tiredness, depression and make an individual more prone to illness.

    Scientists sampled blood from the mother and amniotic fluid from around the foetus in the womb and found that, at a gestational age of 17 weeks or greater, higher cortisol levels in the mother's blood were reflected in higher levels in the amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is mainly produced by the foetus and is a good indicator of its exposure to a range of substances, including hormones.

    Dr Sarkar said further research was needed into how high levels of stress in a mother affect the unborn baby. "We are all a product of our developmental history," she added. "One of the times when we are most susceptible to the influences of our surrounding environment is when we are developing as a foetus.

    "Our research shows that the foetus is exposed to cortisol in the maternal blood, and we also demonstrated that at and above 17 weeks, the cortisol in amniotic fluid had a strong positive relationship with cortisol in maternal blood. We found that the strength of this correlation became stronger with increasing gestational age. We now need to carry out further work to unravel the mechanisms by which maternal stress affects the foetus, both during foetal life and through into childhood.

    Claire Friars, a midwife at the charity Tommy's, said: "This is an important study as, for the first time, there's solid evidence to show that an unborn child may be exposed to maternal stress as early as 17 weeks in development.

    "A crucial next step would be to uncover to what extent different levels of maternal stress can potentially affect an unborn child. For now - based on previous research - one thing is clear: high levels of stress in pregnancy can in some cases be detrimental to the health of the baby.

    "To remain as stress-free as possible is certainly important during pregnancy. Of course, this is easier said than done, as pregnancy itself can incite all sorts of feelings - from feeling overwhelmed, happy and nervous. Pregnancy can signify major emotional changes in mums-to-be, from mood swings to feeling incredibly anxious, which may well elevate women's stress levels.

    "It is vital that pregnant women are given adequate support and reassurance from their family, friends and employers, to ensure they have a happy and healthy pregnancy."

    An earlier study, published in January and led by Prof Glover, measured the intelligence of more than 100 babies and toddlers whose mothers had suffered unusually high stress in pregnancy. It found their IQ was generally about 10 points below average, and that many had higher than average levels of anxiety and attention deficit problems. Relationship problems with a partner were the most frequent cause of stress for pregnant women, the research revealed.
     
  2. QTPie

    QTPie Well-Known Member

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    This has ALWAYS made sense to me... I think that the article is probably too strongly worded - reading the whole article could be very alarming! :nope:

    I really don't think that you can harm your baby, just that things are more optimum if you are calmer, more relaxed and happier... Since you will probably get a calmer, more relaxed, happier baby out of it.

    The worst thing that a stressed/anxious woman can do is to start stressing or getting anxious about being stressed or being anxious potentially harming their baby... really a vicious cycle if you start doing that.

    Anyone who is stressed/anxious should start looking at ways to reduce that stress/anxiety and get LOTS of support from friends, family and the likes of us (a problem shared always helps get it into context, feel that you aren't alone and may even get some offers of help...).

    Always try to be positive: don't stress about stressing, try to put yourself in a more positive/relaxed/calm frame of mind instead...

    QT
     
  3. bekkie

    bekkie Mommy Due Sept 20

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    My doc told me that how I cope with stress will help determine how baby copes with stress - so I definitely try hard to keep myself calm whenever I can - funny though how reading an article mentioning how stress can make my child less intelligent - makes me stress... about stressing hahaha.

    tyvm for sharing :)
     
  4. Zeri

    Zeri Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for posting!
     
  5. Beautywithin

    Beautywithin Mummy of two

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    hmm we have enough to worry about being pregnant with all the do's/don't's!! this will now just worry me even more!
     
  6. littledancer

    littledancer Well-Known Member

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    I completely agree with what QT has said
     
  7. QTPie

    QTPie Well-Known Member

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    I know EXACTLY what you mean! I am not a stressy person and - apart from a slight wobble for about 2/3 days a couple of weeks back (which I did resolve) have had a VERY unstressy pregnancy... but STILL reading that article makes me feel stressy... :dohh:

    I agree with the thoughts behind it, but really it should be reported in a much more positive/constructive light... :nope:

    QT
     
  8. Ridiculous. Anxiety is a learned behaviour, not something that is biologically inherited. What they don't tell you is that there are many studies which refute this theory. Stress is physiologically harmful to the baby if you're exposed to high levels on a daily basis. Such as panic attacks several times a day. Heck, that's harmful to YOU. Psychologically, it does nothing.
     
  9. littledancer

    littledancer Well-Known Member

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    I also wanted to add that there is a bit of a 'blame the mother' trend lately where an expectant mothers 'feelings and emotions' are put on trial on top of her health and diet. I am not ignoring the importance of relaxation and taking care of oneself, but I think the 'blaming' aspect needs to stop.

    I personally think that the negativity surrounding some of the articles puts undue pressure on the mom-to-be. I might even go as far as to say that there is an underlying implication that women should suppress their emotions to make things more convenient for those around them. We in the West seem to hate DISPLAYS of emotion.

    In pregnancy, we are emotional...I think it is more beneficial to express these emotions in the most positive way we can rather than keep them bottled in for fear of showing emotions that are "harmful" to the baby. Sometimes it is positive for me to cry, yell along with loud music or scream into a pillow.

    Don't know if that made sense but that's just my opinion.
     
  10. toseland13

    toseland13 Well-Known Member

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    sorry if it made u stress more :blush: just thought was interesting. cant believe everything you read anyways
     
  11. caz81

    caz81 Well-Known Member

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    tbh im suffering a lot of stress at the moment with moving country, im trying to stay calm with it and it worries me a lot about harming baby and going into preterm labour which prob ends up making me more stressed!
     
  12. QTPie

    QTPie Well-Known Member

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    Just try to keep as positive, calm, relaxed and happy as possible... :hugs:

    QT
     
  13. Stressful pregnancy leads to stressed baby does it? Funny because my son isnt at all stressy haha.
    I had a VERY stressed pregnancy with my son, in and out of hospital (not pregnancy related) problems in my relationship, lost my house, horse died, lost my land....you name it I was constantly stressed, constantly crying and barely slept. However my son is so laid back and has been since birth, he slept through from 6 weeks old, was never clingy, never whinged about anything....easy as pie. he is now five years old and is exactly the same, never gets upset or stressed about anything, he loves everything he does and is well in advance of his school work forming coherent correctly spelt sentances and paragraphs, reading books for 7/8yr olds and learning about division and multiplication (he is just about to go into year 1) so much for the "less intelligent" theory....maybe if I hadnt been stressed in pregnancy hed already be a member of mensa??!!!

    People get stressed, its not going to make your child into a stresshead if you have the usual everyday stresses....infact even if you have a bit of "extra" stress it isnt the end of the world by any means!!! Babies respond to love and affection as much in utero as they do once born, this has a million times more positive effect on your unborn child than any stress or sadness does negative. The same goes for after birth, the amount of love and attention you give that child the happier that child will be, reagrdless of any stress YOU encountered when pregnant.
     
  14. Belle30

    Belle30 Mummy to a baby boy

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    What it doesn't explain is what 'unusually high stress' actually means. I was worried I had upset the baby a couple of weeks ago after having a crying and shouting fit when OH was being a tit, and everything felt like it was getting on top of me. But I have read a few articles about this kind of study that go into more detail and explain that the stress they are looking at involves stuff like the death of a close relative or ongoing domestic violence and abuse.

    If there's anyone reading this that has or is suffering either of the above or any similar horrible thing, this is not to say that your baby will definitely suffer! But it makes sense that continually raised levels of stress hormones can have some effect on your baby's environment inside you (as other types of chemical would). But it needs to be kept in perspective. A few - or even a lot of - arguments, tears, nerves etc - are not going to mean that your baby will have a low IQ, or be psychologically maladjusted!
     
  15. cillybean83

    cillybean83 Well-Known Member

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    I have a 6 year old son who can read, write, and do math at a 5th grade level and his dad left me when I was 3 months pregnant with nothing. I was only 18 years old, going to college and working 2 jobs...i was stressed to the max each and everyday to the point where I started getting gray hair....I'm sure it might have affected his heart rate at times but it in no way diminished my sons intelligence. I have 2 degrees and sometimes I still think he's smarter than me hahaha
     
  16. caz81

    caz81 Well-Known Member

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    thank you :) makes me feel a lot better rather than feeling im to blame for things i can not control xx
     
  17. MummyToAmberx

    MummyToAmberx Mum to 3 Girls 1 Boy

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    I had an EXTREMELY stressful pregnancy with Amber.
    I was an emtional wreck for also 6wks, not eating, constant crying, upset. (All due to OH atm) He said alot of hurtful things, just drove me insane.
    Yes, getting stressed in pregnancy isnt good, but at times just aint no way of avoiding it, simple as. IMO stress isnt going to harm your baby to an extreme point, very rare cases you hear baby having problems that was linked to the mothers stress levels.

    And, also just to say, my amber is good bright child, she has no problems etc etc
     

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