Stress During Pregnancy Affects Fetal Development

For pregnant women, continuous anxiety and mental strain could cause babies to be underweight and nutrition-deprived at birth, according to a recent study. So, it's important not to stress about your stress levels.

Stress during pregnancy is understandable. There are preparations to make before the baby arrives and the everyday worry of carrying around another person in your womb. But there's a difference between the everyday strain of pregnancy and chronic, unyielding stress. For pregnant women, continuous anxiety and mental strain could cause developmental risks to the fetus.


In a press release, lead author of the study, Owen Vaughan, talked about the study, which was published in The Journal of Physiology. Vaughan and his team of researchers used pregnant mice in order to conduct their research, injecting them with a natural glucocorticoid corticosterone to cause stress at different times of fetal development. Researchers injected 20 females from day 11 to 16 and 31 females from day 14 to19, and used 74 females as a control group (they received no injections).

The mice who received injections tended to eat more, however, the researchers noted that the glucocorticoid stress hormones caused a decrease in transition of nutrients through the placenta. Particularly, in the transportation of glucose to the fetus. This resulted in the fetuses weight less than the control-group of mice.

Vaughan explained the long-term effects these stress hormones could have on human offspring:

"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 as a result. This could have implications for women stressed during pregnancy or treated clinically with glucocorticoids, if the mechanisms are similar in humans.”

Read more at EurekAlert!

Photo Credit: futurestreet/Flickr

A still from the film "We Became Fragments" by Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller, part of the Global Oneness Project library.

Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
  • Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Keep reading Show less

The Universe Shouldn’t Exist, CERN Scientists Announce

BASE particle physicists have discovered a very precise way to examine antimatter.

The Veil Nebula. Credit: By Jschulman555 - Own work, Wikipedia Commons.
Surprising Science

Thank your lucky stars you’re alive. It’s truly a miracle of nature. This has nothing to do with spirituality or religion and everything to do with science. Life itself may not be the miracle. Although we haven’t found it elsewhere yet, our galaxy alone is so replete with Earth-like planets that, mathematically speaking, one of them must hold life, even if it’s just the microbial variety. Intelligent life may be another matter.

Keep reading Show less

Ashamed over my mental illness, I realized drawing might help me – and others – cope

Just before I turned 60, I discovered that sharing my story by drawing could be an effective way to both alleviate my symptoms and combat that stigma.

Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

I've lived much of my life with anxiety and depression, including the negative feelings – shame and self-doubt – that seduced me into believing the stigma around mental illness: that people knew I wasn't good enough; that they would avoid me because I was different or unstable; and that I had to find a way to make them like me.

Keep reading Show less

Sexual activity linked to higher cognitive function in older age

A joint study by two England universities explores the link between sex and cognitive function with some surprising differences in male and female outcomes in old age.

The results of this one-of-a-kind study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men.
Image by Lightspring on Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A joint study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford in England has linked sexual activity with higher cognitive abilities in older age.
  • The results of this study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men. In women, however, there was a significant association between sexual activity in word recall alone - number sequencing was not impacted.
  • The differences in testosterone (the male sex hormone) and oxytocin (a predominantly female hormone) may factor into why the male cognitive level changes much more during sexual activity in older age.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…