(U.S.) – A recent study from Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and New York-Presbyterian claims that maternal stress during pregnancy may influence fetal and child development – including whether you have a boy or a girl!
The study was published online in PNAS, the journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Professor of medical psychology at Vagelos College and director of women’s mental health at the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irvin Medical Center, Catherine Monk, Ph.D, lead the study.
Researchers conducted an in-depth study of 27 indicators of stress – including physical, psychosocial, lifestyle, and emotional. The study focused on 187 healthy pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 45.
17% of those women were psychologically under stress, showing diagnosable levels of anxiety and depression.
16% of the women presented with high blood pressure or high caloric intake and were considered physically stressed.
The remainder of the women studied were considered to be healthy, 67% or 125 women.
The research discovered that the sex ratio of male births to female births among the women deemed ‘stressed’ showed more females born. The study also found that physically stressed moms were more likely to experience premature labor and birth than unstressed moms. Also, fetuses experienced “reduced heart rate” – movement coupling, an indicator, according to researchers, of slower central nervous system development. This was found to be more frequent in stressed mothers than unstressed mothers.
Researches also noted that the amount of social support offered to mothers seemed to make it more likely that the mother would have a boy instead of a girl.
Additionally, 30% of pregnant women participating in the study indicated job stress or mental illness issues. Which are linked to premature birth and in turn, higher rates of infant death and ADHD among other issues in children.