Babies in womb feel mothers’ anxiety at only four months

Times on Line (UK) 1 June 2007
Women who suffer stress during pregnancy transmit their anxiety to their unborn child from as early as 17 weeks, research indicates. Stress levels in foetuses only four months old — about the time the pregnancy starts to show — rise and fall in line with those of their mothers’. The findings prompted calls for employers, family and friends to be aware of the risks and offer more help to moth-ers-to-be. “For the first time, there’s solid evidence to show that an unborn child may be exposed to maternal stress as early as 17 weeks in development,” said Claire Friars, a midwife for Tommy’s, the baby charity.As the mother’s stress rose, so did that of the baby, according to Professor Vivette Glover at Imperial College London and consultant obstetrician Pampa Sarkar, of Wexham Park Hospital in Berkshire…. The research is published in the May edition of Clinical Endocrinology. Professor Glover has previously shown a link between stress in pregnancy and the baby’s IQ. The greater the stress felt by the mother, measured by cortisol levels, the lower the IQ. The babies of stressed mothers were also more likely to be anxious and to show signs of attention-deficit disorder.