Mom’s stress and baby’s allergies

By • Published: September 8th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It’s official. There’s a baby on board, and within a matter of months, you’ll be a mom. For many women, news of the stork’s impending arrival is enough to send them into a warp-speed worry mode. Couple this anxiety with money woes or other crises and you’ve got the recipe for a major maternal meltdown.

And as ironic as it sounds, too much stress is one more thing a mommy-to-be must worry about.

Harvard Medical School researchers say stressed-out moms may be passing more than worrywart ways to their unborn offspring. A mother’s stress actually seems to increase her baby’s risk for developing allergies and asthma.

The scientists studied more than three-hundred infants, analyzing cord blood taken at birth for a specific antibody that appears when the immune system is triggered. They also measured how stressed the mothers were during pregnancy and assessed their exposure to dust mites, a common trigger of allergic attacks.

Babies whose mothers were stressed during pregnancy had more of the antibody in their cord blood than other babies. This was true even if their exposure to the allergy-causing dust mites was low. So how is it possible? Researchers say stress seems to amplify an allergen’s ability to spark a reaction.

According to the March of Dimes, too much stress can cause premature delivery, too.

Is a totally stress-free pregnancy impossible? Perhaps, but experts advise getting as much pre-baby rest and relaxation as possible.

Just don’t stress out about it.