Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mild Maternal Stress May Actually Help Children Mature

Date:
May 17, 2006
Source:
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Summary:
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development have learned that contrary to popular belief, mild to moderate levels of maternal psychological stress during pregnancy may actually enhance fetal maturation.

Contrary to popular belief, mild to moderate levels of maternal psychological stress during pregnancy may actually enhance fetal maturation, according to researchers from the Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The findings are contrary to expectations, generated primarily by animal studies, which have reported that stress during pregnancy interferes with normal development. The Hopkins study found that the opposite was true in a study of pregnant women and during a follow-up of their 2-year-old children. The study is published in the May/June 2006 edition of the journal Child Development.

"We found that modest anxiety and daily stress during pregnancy is associated with more advanced early child development. These findings remained even after accounting for levels of stress and anxiety women experienced at six weeks and at two years postpartum. Prenatal maternal stress also didn't interfere with children's temperaments, attention capacity or ability to control behavior and did not cause hyperactivity," said Janet A. DiPietro, PhD, lead author of the study and a professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Population and Family Health Sciences.

The authors found one exception to their study results: the children of women who regarded their pregnancy as more negative than positive showed slightly poorer emotional control and attention capacity.

The researchers followed 137 women from mid-pregnancy though their child's second birthday. Self-reported anxiety, pregnancy-specific and nonspecific stress and depressive symptoms were collected from expecting mothers during mid-pregnancy. Ninety-four children were assessed for mental and motor development, as well as their ability to control their behavior and regulate their emotions, at 24 months of age.

"Our findings should provide relief to women who are experiencing the normal anxieties and stresses common to the demands of modern life. In essence, women can stop worrying that their emotional state is harming their unborn baby. Obviously, we don't recommend that women seek out stress, because maternal exhaustion is not good preparation for labor and delivery and the demands of child rearing," said DiPietro.

Addressing the difference in their study findings when compared to previous animal studies on the same topic, the Hopkins researchers note that the timing and severity of prenatal stressors, as well as the controlled environment in animal studies, differ greatly from the day-to-day lives of actual expectant mothers.

However, the authors caution that because the participants in the study were mostly well-educated, financially stable women who did not have clinically diagnosed psychological problems, the results may not extend to more disadvantaged women or those with mental health disorders. Further research is necessary to determine whether the findings are a result of biological changes to the pregnancy as a result of stress or whether women who are more anxious or feel more stress are more likely to raise their children in ways that may encourage child development. There may even be a genetic component, explained DiPietro.

Study authors include Janet A. DiPietro, Matthew F. S. X. Novak, Kathleen A. Costigan, Lara D. Atella and Sarah P. Reusing.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Mild Maternal Stress May Actually Help Children Mature." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 May 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060517081437.htm>.
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. (2006, May 17). Mild Maternal Stress May Actually Help Children Mature. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060517081437.htm
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Mild Maternal Stress May Actually Help Children Mature." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060517081437.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Doctors once thought artificial sweeteners lacked the health risks of sugar, but a new study says they can impact blood sugar levels the same way. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) A healthy British volunteer is to become the first person to receive a new vaccine for the Ebola virus after US President Barack Obama called for action against the epidemic and warned it was "spiralling out of control." Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Researchers are puzzled as to why obesity rates remain relatively stable as average waistlines continue to expand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins