A study led by researchers at UC San Francisco has recently been published on Aug. 19, 2020, in the Journal of Pediatrics to look at possible links between infant health and maternal perceptions of stress during and after pregnancy.
The researchers assessed the health of the infants across the first year of life by examining their medical records.
The findings showed clear links between maternal stress and baby’s health in first year of life:
- Each 1-point increase in average stress was associated with a 38% increase in incidence of infant infections
- 73% increase in non-infectious illness
- 53% increase in illness diversity
- The degree of impact was larger for perceived stress later in pregnancy
- Stressful life events count and postnatal stress were not uniquely associated with illnesses
This reinforces the case that screening for stress and support for stress reduction during pregnancy can benefit both mother and child, potentially improving outcomes across generations and reducing costs to society.
However, it must be noted that the mothers in the study were all overweight and obese, to keep it more representative of American population, but it may be equally generalizable for other populations.