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article imageStressed mothers lead to babies with allergies

By Tim Sandle     Feb 1, 2015 in Health
During pregnancy it is best to keep relaxed and stress free. This is the best way to protect the health of the baby, according to new research.
A new study has found that women who experience stress during pregnancy are more likely to have babies with a a higher chance of intestinal problems and allergic reactions. This is due to an imbalance in their gut microbiome (the aggregate of bacteria and their genetic by-products found inside the intestines.) This imbalance my lead to various psychological and physical problems in childhood.
With the study, the stress and anxiety levels of pregnant women were assessed using a series of questionnaires, and by laboratory testing the levels of the hormone cortisol (through a sample of saliva.) In addition, to examine the microbiome of the gut, feces samples from 56 babies were tested from the age of 7 days and up until 4 months after birth.
These various pieces of information were then put together for analysis. A correlation was shown between the mothers who reported high stress levels and who also presented high cortisol levels and the variety of microbiota in the babies' guts.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone. It is released in response to stress and a low level of blood glucose. Cortisol prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation; here it is also linked to rheumatoid diseases (affecting the joints and/or connective tissue.)
Discussing the data, the lead project scientist, Carolina de Weerth said: "'We think that our results point towards a possible mechanism for health problems in children of mothers who experience stress during pregnancy."
One way to off-set the problem could involve administering babies with beneficial bacteria, through a type of fecal bacteriotherapy. Fecal transplants have begun to be used as a treatment since 2012. Various studies have confirmed that transplants of stool microbes from healthy donors can successfully clear recurrent infections.
The results of the investigation have been published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. The research article is titled "Maternal Prenatal Stress is Associated with the Infant Intestinal Microbiota."
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