Psychology Today, February 24, 2003 her baby

Psychology Today, February 24, 2003
Worrying the Womb: A mother's anxiety can influence
her baby
Colin Allen
Summary: Preliminary results link Mom's mental health with the development of her
unborn child.
The mindset of expectant mothers can affect fetal development, according to
preliminary research. A new study, published in the February issue of
Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, suggests that stress and anxiety
can cause subtle changes in an unborn child's development. Mothers who
showed higher signs of stress—such as high blood pressure—more frequently
had fetuses with increased heart rates than did non-stressed mothers.
In the study, 32 women in their third trimester took computer tests designed
to evoke stress and anxiety. While all of the pregnant women showed higher
levels of stress during the test, those who were also rated with higher levels
of day-to-day anxiety had fetuses with increased heart rates.
The study suggests that women should pay attention to their mental health
during pregnancy. Still, lead researcher, Catherine Monk, Ph.D., of Columbia
University in New York, warns that the link between a mother's mind and her
baby's health should not be exaggerated. Further research is needed to
prove a stronger relationship.