Maternal Anxiety and Low Birth Weight
Science, folklore and common sense have long supported the belief that a pregnant mother's psychological state can influence her unborn baby. This study examined several biological mechanisms by which maternal stress or anxiety may affect the fetus.
The researchers tested the hypothesis that anxiety in pregnant women is associated with abnormal blood flow in the uterine arteries.
The subjects were 119 pregnant women. The results showed that those who were anxious during pregnancy had significantly abnormal patterns of blood flow through the uterine arteries. Such an intrauterine environment can cause low birth weight, which in turn may lead to health problems later in the baby's life, such as hypertension and ischaemic heart disease.
Maternal anxiety may affect fetal development, even resulting in low birth weight and the health complications it creates for the newborn.
Teixeira JMA, Fisk NM, Glover V. Association between maternal anxiety in pregnancy and increased uterine artery resistance index: Cohort based study. British Medical Journal
, Jan. 16, 1999;318, pp153-57.