Stress in pregnancy can affect the development of an unborn child’s brain, causing disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.
Research from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine in the US, reported in the Daily Mail, showed that the damaging effects of stress are transmitted across the placenta to the unborn child.
Scientists believe it could explain known links between maternal stress and disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, which are more common and serious in male offspring.
As part of the research, female mice were exposed to mild stresses such as strange noises and the smell of foxes during the first week of pregnancy.
They found that an enzyme called OGT was present at lower levels in the placentas of stressed mice than in unstressed mice. Male offspring placentas also had lower natural levels of OGT than those attached to female offspring.
Further research showed that cutting levels of OGT triggered changes in more than 370 genes in the brains of unborn mice.
Many of these genes play a role in functions critical to neurological development, such as energy use, protein regulation and creating nerve cell connections.
Analysis of human placentas discarded after the birth of male babies showed evidence of reduced OGT levels.
The results suggest that OGT may protect the brain during pregnancy. Males have less of the protein to begin with, placing them at greater risk if their mothers are stressed.
This research adds even more reasons to avoid stress in pregnancy as much as possible.
It’s worth remembering, however, that for most mothers-to-be, one of the biggest sources of stress and worry is pregnancy itself.
Whether its fear of giving birth, concerns about being a good parent or the expense of bringing up a child or just worry that something might go wrong, pregnancy puts a huge strain on every expectant mother.
Most of these stresses can be overcome, and Blissful Birth will help you deal with your fears and learn how to stay calm and relaxed so you can give your baby the best possible start.
Bye for now,