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Stress during pregnancy ‘can affect baby’s health’

Author Alex Bellamy
Submitted 26-05-2008

Many fathers-to-be see it as part of their role to look after their pregnant wife or partner when they are carrying their child, helping out with food cravings or rubbing tired feet.

Now, new research has suggested that helping alleviate the stress placed on mothers-to-be could also benefit the baby’s health.

A team at Harvard Medical School has found that maternal stress can impact on their unborn child’s immune system, meaning they could be born with allergies and asthma.

Dr Rosalind Wright from the Boston school suggested that the findings support the notion that stress is a "social pollutant" that can impact on the body’s immune system in the same way their physical pollutants such as car fumes will.

"This research adds to a growing body of evidence that links maternal stress such as that precipitated by financial problems or relationship issues to changes in children’s developing immune systems, even during pregnancy," she added.

Writing on About.com, Elizabeth Scott, a stress management counsellor, notes that time demands, relationship demands, finances, and self-doubt can all cause a pregnant woman stress.