Pregnancy :: Stressed pregnant women may produce lighter babies

Pregnant women who work more than 32 hours each week in stressful jobs may produce babies lighter than the average birth weight, says a study.

Babies born to this group of women have been shown to be five ounces lighter than the average birth weight – the same as babies of women who smoked during pregnancy, reported the online edition of The Scotsman.

The study by Gouke Bonsel of the University of Amsterdam who set up the Amsterdam Born Children And Their Development research group involved 7,000 expectant mothers. It also found that women suffering from stress were more likely to have children who cried excessively.

Pregnant women working long hours were also revealed as having an increased risk of developing pre-eclampsia, a serious complication caused by a defect in the placenta that restricts blood flow to the baby.

Each year seven to 10 women in Britain die from pre-eclampsia. It affects one in 10 pregnancies – one in 50 severely – and kills 500-600 babies each year throughout Britain.

“Women with high stress jobs would do better to work no more than 24 hours from the beginning of pregnancy,” Bonsel said. He advised rescheduling or delegating tasks to avoid pregnant women doing the same amount of work.

“Stress increases the levels of a hormone called cortisol in the mother. This hormone can cross the placenta and we know that cortisol can cause a slowing in growth,” said another expert, Professor Vivette Glover from the foetal and neonatal research group at Imperial College London.

“The effects on an unborn child all depend on the woman’s attitude to work. If they are finding their job stressful, it could be damaging to their baby,” said Alan Mitchell, another researcher.

Leave a Comment