Stress during pregnancy can cause premature birth


According to new research that has examined pregnancy records of Chilean women who were pregnant during a major earthquake and therefore subjected to increased levels of stress, had shorter pregnancies and were more likely to go into labour before the 37th week of gestation.

The research was interesting is that the shorter pregnancies were only statistically significant when the baby born to stressed mothers was a girl.

The study that has been published online in ‘Human Reproduction’ was conducted by researchers at New York University.

The pregnancy records of women were examined of women who were pregnant when the Tarapaca earthquake that measured 7.8 on the Richter scale struck on the 13th of June in 2005, the records were compared to pregnant women who were pregnant in the same region a year before and pregnant women in different regions of Chilli not affected by the earthquake.

The findings reported that the stress of the earthquake caused the gestation term of female births to decrease by 0.31 weeks if the earthquake stuck while the woman was in the second month of pregnancy and 0.28 weeks if they were stressed during the third month of pregnancy. Additionally the rate of premature births increased by 3.8 percent for stressed mothers compared to births of women in different regions of the country and those pregnant in the same region the year before.

This research is added to a growing understanding of the effect of stress during pregnancy and can help develop interventions that can reduce rates of premature births.

Stress management during pregnancy seems to be a fundamental factor of reaching full term during pregnancy, mindfulness meditation and special pregnancy yoga could aid relaxation and help to keep stress levels under control.