4D Ultrasound Suggests Maternal Stress can affect Foetuses


New research using 4D ultrasound scans have revealed new evidence linking certain foetus behaviour with high levels of stress in their mother.

A 4D scanner takes ultrasound images from many directions and ‘stitches’ them together to create a 3D model of the baby in the womb. The ‘fourth dimension’ comes from when these models are taken successively and turned into a video.

The scans found that babies tend to touch their faces a lot more often when their mother’s report high levels of stress.

Between 24 and 36 weeks, the foetuses were scanned at four different stages. The mother’s were questioned to find out how stressed they had been in the four weeks preceding the scan.

The study indicated that the more stressed the mother’s were in the weeks preceding the scans, the more often the foetuses would touch their faces with their hand.

Furthermore, the unborn babies seemed to favour touching their heads with the left hand when stress was a factor.

Although touching their faces seems like a strange indicator of stress, think about the way people sometimes sigh and put their heads in their hands when things aren’t going right for them.

Lead author on the study, Dr Nadja Reissland of Durham University, said that the study “suggests maternal stress could be having an effect on the child’s behaviour in the womb and highlights the importance of reducing maternal stress in pregnancy.”

The study is not conclusive however and there could be no link, but excessive stress is detrimental to health anyway and should be avoided.