Stress in pregnancy can impact your baby's mental health in later life, new study finds 3 years ago

Stress in pregnancy can impact your baby's mental health in later life, new study finds

We are all leading lives that, for the most part, are actually far too stressful for our own health and wellbeing.

Work pressure, finacial worries, juggling childcare, family commitments – so many of us are spending a lot of time worrying or fretting, and the reality is that this is very bad news for our health.

Prolonged stress has been proven all sorts of damaging, both to our physical and mental wellbeing, and now a new study is telling us that even unborn children can end up suffering if mothers are stressed during their pregnancy.

In fact, according to the new Finnish study, the children of women who experience severe stress when pregnant are nearly 10 times more likely to develop mental health issues, or even a personality disorder, by the age of 30, than children whose mothers did not

Sounds worrying? It is – stress is really bad news. And according to the researchers, even moderate prolonged stress may have an impact on child development and continue after a baby's birth, it said.

To conduct their study, the Finnish researchers asked more than 3,600 pregnant women about their stress levels, and then followed them up postpartum and as their children grew up.

Every month during pregnancy, the study - in the British Journal of Psychiatry - asked the women, whose babies were born between 1975 and 1976, to answer questions about their mental stress levels, where they had to answer whether they had notable stress, some stress or no stress.

When those children turned 30, any diagnoses of personality disorder were noted - there were 40 in total, which were all severe cases involving admission to hospital.


Keep in mind that apart from stress, other important factors, such as how children are brought up, the family's financial situation and trauma experienced during childhood, are known to contribute to the development of personality disorders and could have played a role.

In short, what they study found was that prolonged stress is bad news, and can have far-reaching effects.

Prolonged, high levels of stress during pregnancy could have a potentially long-lasting effect on children, and children exposed to severe maternal stress were 9.53 times more likely to develop a personality disorder than those whose mothers experienced no stress.