The Journal of Physiology has published a study carried out on mice that indicates that stress during pregnancy could have a negative impact on the birth weight of a baby.
By raising the stress hormone levels in pregnant mice, scientists looked at how it affected their offspring and the development of the foetus in the womb.
As the levels of the natural stress hormones rose in the bodies of the mothers, the mice began to eat more. However, less energy from food was actually transferred to the foetus, resulting in smaller babies.
Dr Owen Vaughan, from Cambridge University, commented: “Glucocorticoid levels in pregnant women may determine the specific combination of nutrients received by the foetus and influence the long-term metabolic health of their children.
“This could have implications for women stressed during pregnancy or treated clinically with glucocorticoids, if the mechanisms are similar in humans.”
There is no proof that the same thing happens to human mothers and their children, but the possibility is there. It highlights, again, the importance of stress management and how much of an effect stress can have on our lives and health, particularly in a society that constantly applies stress and rarely helps to relieve it.
Anyone who is overly stressed or suffering from mental health problems like depression should seek out courses to help them manage it, courses such as ones that teach mindfulness, in order to control their stress levels and improve health.