A stressful pregnancy is not the best way to enter motherhood for any woman. Here’s more evidence that pregnancy and stress are not the ideal situation as far as the baby is concerned. Harvard researchers are reporting that exposure to prenatal stress may add to a baby’s risk of developing asthma and a host of other allergies.
Lead researcher Rosalind J. Wright, assistant professor of medicine at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School and colleagues measured the level of Immunoglobulin E in the umbilical cord blood of 387 babies.
The researchers found increased levels of IgE expression in cord blood of babies whose mothers reported high stress levels during pregnancy.
"This further supports the notion that stress can be thought of as a social pollutant that, when ‘breathed’ into the body, may influence the body’s immune response similar to the effects of physical pollutants like allergens, thus adding to their effects," Dr Wright said.
The researchers said that as far as this study was concerned, it was too small to make any conclusive recommendations to would-be mothers. Regardless, pregnant women must avoid being dragged into stressful situations as it has also been linked to premature babies and very low birth weight babies.
The findings were presented on May 18 at the American Thoracic Society’s annual International Conference in Toronto.