Scientists discovered that stress causes low weight babies. According to the latest study, women that are living a stressful life before getting pregnant are more likely to give birth to low weight babies than those who adopt a Zen-like philosophy.
For a healthy person, the levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, are higher in the morning, and gradually decrease during the day. But there are some who present a smaller than average level in the first hours of the day. These reduce levels lead to an even smaller decline during the rest of the day.
The pattern that is thus created is often associated with a history of physical or psychological trauma and chronic stress. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that the abnormal distribution of cortisol is also linked to hardened arteries and even cancer.
And according to the latest research, the levels of cortisol present in a woman’s body can predict the weight of her future baby. Christine Guardino, the author of the cited study, discovered that the more the mother is predisposed to chronic stress, the less the baby will weigh.
The postdoctoral psychology scholar at the California University assembled a team that analyzed 142 expecting mothers in Baltimore, Lake County, the eastern parts of North Carolina, Washington and Los Angeles. In order to establish stress levels, the researchers looked at different factors including BMI, blood pressure, and the cortisol levels present in their saliva.
And according to the paper published in the Health Psychology journal, the team discovered that stress causes low weight babies.
Annually there are over 300,000 infants born with less than average weights in the United States. These babies weigh less than five, five and a half pounds at birth, which leads to an increased risk of developing serious health problems that could even prove to be fatal.
Professor Dunkel Schetter, the co-author of the study, explained the connection between the two factors. It seems that when the levels of cortisol are elevated, the blood flow that assures the needed nutrients and oxygen to the baby lowers.
Since stress causes low weight babies, the researchers advise women who are trying to get pregnant to try and eliminate this negative factor from their lives. Dunkel Schetter pointed out in a news release that pre-conception health should be improved.
The status of a woman’s physical and mental health is crucial when it comes to the well-being of her future child.
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