The sensation of constantly standing on edge, always getting to consider proper care of everything, the inability to look for a balance: If the pregnant woman is strongly stressed more than a extended period of time, the chance of the unborn baby creating a mental or physical illness later in existence — for example attention deficit disorder (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or coronary disease — increases. The actual mechanism of methods stress affects the infant within the womb is not completely clarified. In cooperation using the College Hospital Zurich and also the Max Planck Institute Munich, researchers from the College of Zurich have found that physical stress towards the mother can alter the metabolic process within the placenta and influence the development from the unborn baby.
Stress hormone affects the development from the fetus
When stressed, the body releases hormones to handle greater stress, like the so-known as corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which leads to a rise in stress hormone cortisol. This mechanism also persists while pregnant, and also the placenta, which gives the fetus with nutrients, may also emit stress hormone CRH. Consequently, a tiny bit of this substance enters the amniotic fluid and fetal metabolic process. Animal research has proven this hormone can boost the introduction of the unborn baby: Unfavorable growth conditions within the lady result in an elevated discharge of the hormone, therefore improving the likelihood of survival in situation of the premature birth. Under certain conditions, however, this increase may also have negative effects: “An excessive acceleration of growth can happen at the fee for the correct maturation from the organs,” states Ulrike Ehlert, psychiatrist and program coordinator.
Short-term stress — no effect
So how exactly does mental stress towards the mother modify the discharge of stress hormones within the placenta? The study team tested 34 healthy women that are pregnant, who required part in amniocentesis inside the scope of prenatal diagnostics. This type of test is really a stress situation for the pregnant woman as her body secretes cortisol for the short term. To find out if the placenta also releases stress hormones, they compared the cortisol level within the mother’s saliva using the CRH level within the amniotic fluid — and determined that there wasn’t any connection: “The infant clearly remains shielded from unwanted effects in situation of acute, short-term stress towards the mother,” Ehlert concludes.
Longer-term stress could be measured in amniotic fluid
The problem from the results regarding prolonged stress is totally different, as was resolute using questionnaires for diagnosing chronic social overload: “When the mother is stressed a bit longer of your time, the CRH level within the amniotic fluid increases,” states Gem La Marca-Ghaemmaghami, psychiatrist and program investigator. This greater power of stress hormone consequently accelerates the development from the fetus. Consequently, the result from the hormone on growth is confirmed, as continues to be noticed in creatures for example tadpoles: If their pond is near becoming dry, CRH is released in tadpoles, therefore driving their metamorphosis. “The corticotropin-releasing hormone CRH clearly plays an intricate and dynamic role in the introduction of a persons fetus, which must be better understood,” La Marca-Ghaemmaghami summarizes.
Strengthening mental sources with specialized help
The psychologists advise women that are pregnant who’re uncovered to longer-term stress situations to “seek support from the counselor to handle stress better.” Stress while pregnant cannot continually be prevented, however. “A safe and secure bond between your mother and child following the birth can neutralize unwanted effects of stress while pregnant,” La Marca-Ghaemmaghami states.