Excessive stress has a variety of different health repercussions, but researchers are finding that, for pregnant women, stress can affect the quality of life of their baby. In a new study, David Olson and a team of researchers from the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine have found that chronic stress for women early in childhood can lead to preterm birth when they later become pregnant. Their findings are published in the journal BMC Medicine.
“Chronic stress is one of the better predictors of preterm birth,” says Olson, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Alberta in a recent press release. “In fact, if women are exposed to two or more adverse childhood experiences while growing up, their risk of preterm birth doubles.”
Working with Kathleen Hegadoren, professor of Nursing at U of A, and graduate student Inge Christiaens, Olson investigated how early stressful experiences can affect the duration of a woman’s pregnancy later on in life.
The study based its research off a statistic by the World Health Organization, which estimates that 15 million babes are born each year preterm. Preterm birth constitutes the largest cause of death for children under five, and those who do survive often have higher risks of developing health conditions like chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease and metabolic diseases like Type 2 diabetes. The World Health Organization also found that preterm babies are at a higher risk of cognitive and behavioral issues.
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