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article imageToo much stress for the mother affects the baby: Study

By Tim Sandle     May 30, 2017 in Health
Swiss researchers have found that if an expectant mother is under stress over the long-term, the level of stress hormones in the amniotic fluid rises. This could have implications for the development of the baby.
The research, which cut across several scientific disciplines, suggests where a mother is stressed for a long time during the course of the pregnancy, the concentration of stress hormones in amniotic fluid increases. However, short-term stress situations have no significant impact.
The amniotic fluid is the protective liquid found within the amniotic sac. This fluid functions foremost as a cushion for the growing fetus. The fluid also allows for an exchange of exchange of nutrients, water, and biochemical products between mother and fetus. The biochemical products include hormones.
When medics are of the view that the measurement of amniotic fluid hormone levels are of practical value, especially for assessing high-risk pregnancies. Here a technique called amniocentesis can be used. This procedure allows for a diagnosis of chromosomal abnormalities and fetal infections.
The concern with stress during pregnancy runs that if an expectant mother is strongly stressed over a longer period of time, the risk of the unborn child developing a mental or physical illness later in life rises. This has been associated with the child developing conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or cardiovascular disease. Exactly how stress leads to these risks is not exactly known; however the correlation is strong.
What researchers from the University Hospital Zurich and the Max Planck Institute Munich, have found is that a mother under longer-term physical stress affects the unborn child through alterations to the metabolism in the placenta.
Stress with the mother is measured by the release of the corticotropin-releasing hormone. The research indicates that a small quantity of this hormone can enter the amniotic fluid and affect the fetal metabolism. Here the lead researcher, Dr. Pearl La Marca-Ghaemmagham states: "If the mother is stressed for a longer period of time, the CRH level in the amniotic fluid increases.”
The research into stress levels has been published in the journal Stress. The research is titled “Second-trimester amniotic fluid corticotropin-releasing hormone and urocortin in relation to maternal stress and fetal growth in human pregnancy.”
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