Stress during pregnancy may have a negative emotional impact on babies, study finds – CTV

Sept. 8, 2022

Being pregnant is tough enough, but with the added pressure of work, a shaky economy and the risks of COVID-19, it can seem overwhelming. But if it’s possible, expectant mothers should try to take stock of their stress and reach out for help to reduce how often their newborn is likely to experience negative emotions, according to a new study.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Infancy, found babies of moms who experienced more fluctuations in stress during pregnancy showed more fear, sadness and distress at 3 months than those of moms who were less stressed.

Women with higher fluctuations were more likely to report that their babies often seemed angry, crying or fussing when left in a crib; showed distress when they were tired; and clung to a parent when introduced to an unfamiliar adult, the study said.

“We know that infants experiencing chronic stimulation of the stress response system (chronically elevated cortisol), or ‘toxic stress,’ without the buffer of a caring adult have impact on early brain development, immune system and epigenetics,” said Dr. Marian Earls, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Healthy Mental & Emotional Development, in an email. She was not involved in the study.

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